UNION BULLETIN – ANDY PORTER – Despite a jot of cool weather at its end, last month finished as the warmest May on record, according to the National Weather Service.
The average temperature, 65.7 degrees, was 6.4 degrees above normal. This beat the previous warmest May in 1958, which averaged 65.3 degrees.
The warm and dry conditions seemed to agree with wheat and other grain crops, which were reportedly thriving across the state. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Walla Walla and Columbia counties, along with Douglas and Pend Oreille counties, all reported strong improvement in winter wheat crops.
In northeast Oregon, including Umatilla County, wheat was “headed” out, meaning the head where wheat kernels are located has pushed out of the leaf sheath, and looked good, the USDA reported.
Daytime highs averaged 76.6 degrees, which was 6.2 degrees above normal, while nighttime lows were 54.8 degrees, a mark 6.5 degrees above average. The hottest days were 88 degrees on May 14-15, while the coolest night was May 12 when the mercury dropped to 45 degrees.
Rainfall was also lacking. Precipitation totaled 0.77 inches, which was 1.36 inches below normal. Nearly half that total, 0.36 inches, fell on May 8; only seven other days had measurable rainfall of at least 0.01 inch.
Total rain and snowfall this year now stands at 9.30 inches, which is 1.34 inches below average. Since October, the start of the water year, precipitation has been 16.45 inches, which is 1.12 inches below normal.
The May 8 deluge also delivered the month’s highest wind gust, at 44 mph as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport.
The above-average warm and dry weather is expected to continue this month, according to the federal Climate Prediction Center.
Normal highs for Walla Walla rise from 75 degrees to 84 degrees by the end of the month, while nighttime lows go from 52 degrees to 57 degrees by the start of July. Normal precipitation is 1.28 inches based on a 30-year average.
Another seasonal milestone will come with the summer solstice on June 21, marking the end of spring and the official start of summer.
Picture: Greg Lehman – A setting sun illuminates a thriving wheat field just northeast of Milton-Freewater last week. Winter wheat crops were flourishing across Southeast Washington thanks to record warmth last month.