Cleaning up

Tanner Loots of the Clinton Street Department directs traffic on North Third Street in Clinton on Aug. 13 while a street crew from Dubuque helps Clinton Street Department pick up storm debris. Clinton sustained heavy damage as a result of the Aug. 10 derecho that swept over the state.

CLINTON — Gateway-area residents will remember August 2020 because of the powerful derecho that left more than 100,000 people without power for weeks.

But the month was also hotter and drier than usual. And because of the warmer, drier conditions, forecasters are concerned about what this will mean heading into September.

James Blaess, Clinton-area weather observer, said Clinton last month received only a fraction of the precipitation it usually gets. Combine that with above-normal temperatures, and it creates the perfect recipe for a drought, he said.

“In Clinton, we only had 1.36 inches of precipitation for the month,” Blaess said. “And the (monthly) average is 4.41 inches. Additionally, August ended up being slightly above normal for temperatures, about 1.1 degrees.”

Blaess said Clinton had a string of 90-degree days toward the end of the month. He said last month was the first August to have a day over 90 degrees in the last four years. He said the average is four, 90-degree days, but Clinton had a total of five of them. He said overall, the meteorological summer, which is June through August, was also warmer and drier than normal.

“We ended the summer with 1.58 inches of below-normal precipitation,” Blaess said.

Blaess said this summer had a total of 16, 90-degree days. He said normally Clinton only has 14 90-degree days.

Zach Uttech, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Quad-Cities, agreed with Blaess. He said the weather patterns during August pushed a lot of the rain and moisture north of the Gateway area and left the region hot and dry.

“Overall, we were pretty far above normal for temperatures,” Uttech said. “That helped to push the jet stream to our north. So, any weaker fronts (stayed north in) Minnesota and Wisconsin, that kind of focused the heavier rains and thunderstorms to our north.”

Uttech said that trend persisted through much of August. He said the Quad-Cities received less than an inch of precipitation for the month. He said normally that area would receive 4 to 4.5 inches of rain for August.

Despite the warmer and drier conditions, Uttech said it is typical to see dry spells here and there throughout a calendar year. He said it could always be worse.

“I wouldn’t say this is too unusual. Technically, we are just in the first rating and category in the US Drought Monitor. Right now, we are in the abnormally dry category, so this does happen,” Uttech said.

Uttech said looking ahead into next week, a major cool down and more rain are expected across the Gateway area. After Labor Day, high temperatures are forecasted to be in the lower to mid-60s and lows will drop to the low 50s. Some areas may even see a few 40s for lows.

Overall, forecasters say September’s average highs and lows fall dramatically throughout the month.