Western Nevada never warmer, drier

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Never, in more than a century of recordkeeping, has western Nevada been hotter and drier than it is right now.

The area is four weeks away from its skimpiest water year and just ended its warmest six-month period, according to state Climatologist John James.

''I've never seen a string like that before,'' he said. ''The northern two-thirds of Nevada are in an extreme drought. In some places less than a quarter of the normal precipitation has fallen.''

Reno is just over a quarter at 2.04 inches since the water year began Oct. 1 compared with the normal 7.53 inches. The rainless record for the past 133 years is 2.59 inches in 1923-24.

And it's warm. Last month was 6.5 degrees above average in Reno, making it the hottest August on record. In the past six months, May also was No. 1 for warmth at 10 degrees above normal. March was No. 2, June was fifth and July sixth.

Of the past 36 months, James said seven were 5 degrees or more above normal.

The National Drought Mitigation Center shows extreme drought across northern Nevada through the southern half of Idaho and the western halves of Colorado and Montana along with the northeastern corner of California abutting Nevada and Oregon.

In Elko, where the Humboldt River is nothing but scattered puddles in shady spots, the fourth warmest August averaged 72.1 degrees, 3.4 degrees above normal. Its 0.02 inch of precipitation left it 1.71 inches shy for the water year.

Along with Elko, the Humboldt is dry in Battle Mountain and Imlay, according to George Roach of the U.S. Geological Survey office in Elko.

''The primary drought impacts to the area are to agriculture, fire danger, ranching and wildlife habitat,'' Gary Barbato of the USGS in Reno said.

James added, ''This has caused rangelands to be useless in many areas and has left irrigation water at a very low ebb.''

Ely, with an average temperature of 68.7 degrees, recorded its fifth warmest August and was 3.2 degrees above normal. However, it also got some rain with a total of 0.78 inches. That's still 0.05 inch below average and leaves it 2.62 inches behind for the water year.

Las Vegas squeezed out 0.05 inch of precipitation with an average temperature of 92 degrees, 3 above normal. Winnemucca, the only other city of weather service record in Nevada, was 2.8 degrees above average at 72.5 degrees and had 0.01 inch of rain. It's 2.91 inches behind for the water year.

James, who analyzes the historical sequences of weather patterns, said no amount of climatology can forecast what might follow the past six months.

''Nothing like this has ever gone on before,'' he said.


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