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Utah's warmer-than-usual temps likely to stick around into fall

Published August 15, 2013 11:27 am

Climate • NOAA also predicts drought in the West will intensify.
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Hot, dry conditions look likely to continue well into fall.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday there is no sign of El Nino or La Nina climate patterns on the near horizon to stir things up. That means the unusual warmth of the summer in Utah — and the continuing drought — will probably be sticking around through November.

"Through most of the West," said Anthony Artusa, a meteorologist at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, " we anticipate the drought will persist or intensify."

Artusa made the comments at a monthly presentation on the nation's climate trends. He and other NOAA scientists zeroed in on the roller-coaster trends Alaska has seen this year, and they talked about the prospect of the drought lifting in some parts of middle America.

But, in the western region that includes Utah, temperatures will probably be higher than normal, forecasters said. Forecasters didn't see anything to suggest precipitation would vary from the usual pattern.

In July, both temperatures and precipitation were above normal, NOAA confirmed. This July was the hottest on record in Utah, with average daily temperatures running 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the 30-year norm.

And, while July is usually Utah's driest month, this year .55 inches more rain fell than normal. That sprinkling might be blamed for the sprouting of cheatgrass that has fed wildfires throughout the state.

That's changed this month, said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist in the National Weather Service's Salt Lake City office.

"We had a pretty good monsoon up 'till now," he said. "Then it quit."

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: @judyfutah