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Tri-Cities could hit 90 for Mother’s Day. The summer water forecast is not so bright

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Dandelions and honey bees seem to be two sure signs spring weather has arrived in the Mid-Columbia.
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Dandelions and honey bees seem to be two sure signs spring weather has arrived in the Mid-Columbia.

Summer is expected to come early to the Tri-Cities.

Highs could hit 90 by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s close to 20 degrees above normal for the second week of May in the Tri-Cities, said the weather service.

While that’s great for people who want to spend Mother’s Day outside, it’s not so good for the summer water forecast.

Temperatures will be heating up not only in the Tri-Cities but across the state this week, including in the mountains where a slow melt to the winter snow pack is better for those irrigating crops and lawns.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released an updated Yakima basin water supply forecast on Monday, dropping the amount of water estimated to be available for those with junior water rights to 75 percent of their entitlement.

Those with senior water rights should receive their full amount.

KID urges water conservation

The Kennewick Irrigation District, which relies on water from the Yakima River, should have a little more than 75 percent of its allotted water available.

It receives prorated water like those with junior water rights, but its contract with the Bureau of Reclamation usually means it gets a little more water than those with junior water rights.

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The Kennewick Irrigation District should receive a little more than 75 percent of its water allotment this year, according to the latest water forecast. McClatchy File

The Yakima basin water estimate released Monday is down from an estimate of 84 percent just a few weeks ago.

The lower estimate was expected, said Jason McShane, engineering and operations manager for KID.

Warm weather and low levels of precipitation marked the second half of April.

The Yakima basin reservoir storage is currently 86 percent of average and the snow pack that feeds the Yakima River is between 65 and 70 percent of average, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Its forecast for the irrigation season is based on flows, precipitation, snow pack and reservoir storage as of May 1, along with estimates of future precipitation and river flows.

KID is hoping that the snow will not melt too quickly this month and that there is more precipitation.

It is planning no water restrictions now, but advises its customers to use water wisely.

Lawns should be trained to grow deep roots to withstand dry periods by watering grass less frequently but for longer durations.

Summer could be hotter than usual

The weather service is expecting May in the Tri-Cities to be warmer and drier than usual.

Normal highs for the Tri-Cities rise from about 70 at the start of May to about 78 at the end of the month. Lows increase from about 43 to about 52.

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Summer is expected to be hotter and drier than usual in the Pacific Northwest this year. Courtesy AccuWeather

Normal precipitation is about 0.65 inches.

This week Tri-City residents can expect highs to increase from the low 80s early in the work week to the mid 80s by Friday and possibly 90 on Saturday and Mother’s Day, according to the early forecast. Skies should be sunny all week.

AccuWeather is predicting a hot and dry summer in the Pacific Northwest.

“The key in the Northwest is how fast does it dry out,” said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather meteorologist.

If the Northwest and Rockies dry out in early June, the summer could be three to five degrees warmer than normal, according to AccuWeather.

More wildfires than usual are possible in the Cascade Mountains if, as expected, temperatures rise and precipitation is low, AccuWeather said.

A look back at Tri-Cities April

April was warmer than usual in the Tri-Cities, with temperatures about 2 degrees above normal in Kennewick and 4 degrees above normal in Pasco, according to weather service statistics.

The warmest temperature recorded in the Tri-Cities last month was 84 on March 18 at the Pasco airport.

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Temperatures and precipitation as recorded at the Pasco airport in April 2019. Courtesy National Weather Service

At the Hanford Meteorology Station northwest of Richland, one daily temperature record was set. It keeps daily temperature records back to World War II.

April 19 had the warmest low temperature on record for April 19. The new record is 57, beat the old record of 56 set in 1994.

Precipitation was above normal at Hanford and in the Tri-Cities for April. Richland reported 0.82 inch of precipitation, which was 0.22 inch above normal.

The peak wind gusts in the Tri-Cities in April was 45 mph, as recorded in both Kennewick and at the Pasco airport on April 27. At the Hanford met station, it was 53 mph on the same date.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.

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