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National Weather: Cool Weather, Heavy Showers In The Plains 
   9/12/2006 12:29:00 PM

National Weather: Cool Weather, Heavy Showers In The Plains   


Hot, dry weather in the Northwest pushed the nation's wildfire acreage into record territory.  Through September 10, the national charred acreage of approximately 8.694 million acres (13,585 square miles, or an area larger than Maryland) edged last year's modern-era record of 8.687 million acres.


Although dry conditions favored winter wheat planting across the northern Plains and the Northwest, rain was needed to promote germination.


Northwestern weekly temperatures averaged as much as 10 degrees F above normal.  Farther south, monsoon showers--enhanced by moisture associated with the remnants of eastern Pacific Hurricane John--continued in the Four Corners region.  Cool weather (generally 4 to 8 degrees F below normal) accompanied heavy showers on the central and southern Plains, where rain caused local flooding but aided drought-stressed pastures and provided much-needed moisture for the upcoming winter wheat establishment season.


Meanwhile, Midwestern summer crops matured under generally favorable conditions, although scattered showers briefly slowed early-season corn harvesting.  Elsewhere, locally heavy rain lingered across the East in the wake of Tropical Storm Ernesto, maintaining soggy conditions in portions of the middle and southern Atlantic States.  In contrast, drought remained deeply entrenched in parts of the South, particularly in the Mississippi Delta.


By September 10, the two largest Northwestern blazes were the Derby fire (207,000 acres about 15 miles south of Big Timber, MT), 60 percent contained, and the Tripod complex (172,000 acres just northeast of Winthrop, WA), 65 percent contained.  The Derby fire, sparked by lightning on August 22, was responsible for the loss of nearly 50 structures, including cabins, sheds, and outbuildings.


Hot, dry weather, with temperatures near 100 degrees F, hampered wildfire containment efforts.  In Washington, Omak posted consecutive daily-record highs (98 and 95 degrees F) on September 5 and 6.


In contrast, chilly weather settled across the central and southern Plains.  In Nebraska, Alliance (31 and 32 degrees F) notched consecutive daily-record lows on September 2 and 3. 


Similarly, Casper, WY, reported daily-record lows from September 2-4 (33, 33, and 34 degrees F, respectively).  Farther south, heavy rain pelted the southern Plains and the Southwest. 


In New Mexico, more than 3 inches of rain fell in Roswell during the first 5 days of September, while exactly 5 inches of rain drenched Carlsbad.


Roswell also netted a daily-record total of 2.45 inches on September 3.  Meanwhile, El Paso, TX, followed its wettest August on record (6.85 inches, or 391 percent of normal) with consecutive daily-record totals on September 3 and 4 (1.33 and 1.28 inches, respectively).


Farther east, Southeastern daily-record totals were set in locations such as Raleigh-Durham, NC (3.83 inches on September 4), and Miami, FL (4.63 inches on September 6).  Through September 9, Miami's month-to-date rainfall reached 12.71 inches.  On September 5, Mid-Atlantic daily records were set in Philadelphia, PA (2.45 inches) and Wallops Island, VA (2.98 inches).  Wallops Island's rain fell on the heels of an Ernesto-induced 4.14-inch total on September 1.  Elsewhere, scattered daily rainfall records across the central Plains and the Midwest included 1.61 inches (on September 3) in St. Cloud, MN; 1.76 inches (on September 9) in Kearney, NE; and 1.89 inches (on September 9) in Hill City, KS.


Meanwhile, chilly weather settled across the north-central U.S., where daily-record lows for September 9 included 25 degrees F in International Falls, MN, and 33 degrees F in Grand Forks, ND.


Mild weather returned to Alaska, where weekly temperatures averaged 3 to 6 degrees F except across the State's southern tier.  Both Galena (70 and 69 degrees F on September 4 and 6, respectively) and Bettles (66 and 68 degrees F on September 8 and 9, respectively) posted a pair of daily-record highs during the week.  Elsewhere, the remnants of long-lived former Hurricane/Typhoon Ioke brought heavy precipitation to western Alaska.  Daily-record rainfall totals for September 7 included 1.15 inches in Bethel and 0.66 inch in Kotzebue.  Heavy precipitation also continued in parts of southeastern Alaska, where Juneau netted 5.16 inches of rain (227 percent of normal) during the first 10 days of September.


Meanwhile in Hawaii, showers were mostly confined to windward locations.  Some of the heaviest rain fell on September 6-7, when 24-hour Big Island totals reached 2.80 inches in Glenwood and 2.10 inches in Piihonua.