June in the West
Temperatures were well above normal this month in a wide swath from southern California northeast to southeastern Montana. Above normal precipitation was observed in the lee of the Sierra Nevada, southern Nevada, southern and central Arizona and several other scattered locations in the West. The Inland Northwest, northern Rockies, California, northern Nevada, and much of Utah were drier than normal.
A few low-pressure systems impacted the West at mid-month, bringing late season precipitation to some areas. Red Bluff, in northern California, observed 1.27 in (32 mm) rainfall, 270% of normal and the 7th wettest June since records began in 1933. Further east, Ely, Nevada recorded 1.56 in (40 mm) for the month, 233% of normal. The orientation of these storms favored the lee of the southern Sierra Nevada, where Bishop, California, logged 0.5 in (13 mm), 263% of normal and the 8th wettest June since records began in 1895. The Southwest received some precipitation associated with these systems, though above normal precipitation in this area was dominated by pre-monsoon activity during the last week of the month. Tucson, Arizona, observed 1.59 in (40 mm), 795% of normal and the wettest June since records began in 1946. Most of this precipitation (1.15 in/29 mm) fell on the 29th, now the second wettest June day in Tucson’s record. Las Vegas, Nevada also experienced monsoon-related precipitation and recorded 0.49 in (12 mm) for the month, 700% of normal and the 3rd wettest June since records began in 1948. Isolated areas of southern New Mexico, Colorado, northeast Montana, and eastern Washington also observed above normal precipitation. Drought improvement was seen in west-central Nevada and across south-central and eastern New Mexico.
Most of the Inland Northwest and the northern Rockies saw drier than normal conditions. Pocatello, Idaho, recorded only 0.05 in (1 mm) precipitation, 5% of normal for June and the 4th driest June in a 78-year record. In central Montana, Lewistown reported 0.76 in (19 mm), 25% of normal and 3rd driest June since records began in 1896. June is typically Lewistown’s wettest month. Drier than normal conditions were observed across Utah. In the eastern part of the state, Duchesne logged 0.05 in (1mm) rainfall, 6% of normal. Much of California and northern Nevada received little or no precipitation this month, not uncommon for June. Drought conditions worsened in northeastern Oregon as well as along the eastern Montana-Wyoming border.
Heat waves during the first week and latter half of the month brought record June temperatures to some areas of the Desert Southwest. Needles, in southeastern California, reported an average temperature of 97.5 F (36.4C) for the month, 6.8 F (3.8 C) above normal and the warmest June since records began in 1941. The temperature at Needles rose to 125 F (51.7 C) on June 20th, tying the all-time record high temperature at that location. Las Vegas, Nevada, also observed its warmest June on record at an average of 92.8 F (33.8 C), 6.1 F (3.4 C) above normal. Phoenix, Arizona, tied 2013 for warmest June on record at an average 94.8 F (34.9 C), 4 F (2.2 C) above normal. In the Great Basin, Salt Lake City, Utah, tied 2015 for warmest June at an average 77.5 F (25.3 C), 7.8 F (4.3 C) above normal. In far southeastern Montana, Broadus reported an average June temperature of 73.2 F (22.9 C), 8.1 F (4.5 C) above normal. This was the second warmest June since records began in 1920.
Most locations throughout Hawaii observed above normal precipitation this month, though June is typically the driest month of the year across the state. On the leeward side of the Big Island, Kawaihae reported 1.63 in (41 mm), 262% of normal and the 2nd wettest June since records began in 1977. In Alaska, June was wetter than normal for the Southcentral region, some interior locations, and the North Slope. Fairbanks reported 3.29 in (84 mm), 240% of normal and the 4th wettest June in an 88-year record. Western Alaska saw drier than normal conditions; Nome reported 0.34 in (9 mm) of precipitation, 34% of normal. Temperatures were near normal for the interior of the state and above normal in coastal areas. Kotzebue, in northwestern Alaska, recorded an average June temperature of 51.2 F (10.7 C), 5.5 F (3.1 C) above normal and the 5th warmest since records began in 1897.
Significant Events for June 2016
June (all month): Large Fires in the West: Several large fires impacted the West this month, especially in Arizona and California. The largest in Arizona was the Cedar Fire in the east-central part of the state, which consumed 45,977 acres (18,600 hectares) since it ignited on June 15. The cause of the fire is under investigation. In southern California, the Erskine Fire burned over 47,864 acres (19,370 hectares) near Lake Isabella. Also in southern California, the Sherpa Fire charred 7,474 acres (3,020 hectares) near Santa Barbara. In northern California, by the 30th the Trailhead Fire grew to 2151 acres (870 hectares) and threatened over 2,500 homes, forcing evacuations.
June 28-29: Monsoon-related flooding in Arizona and Nevada: Extensive flooding occurred in several parts of Arizona in association with a major monsoon storm of the year. Flagstaff’s Southside neighborhood in particular saw heavy flooding and street closures. Runoff and debris from the Cedar Fire contributed to flooding and road closures in Cedar Creek in east-central Arizona. Las Vegas, Nevada, also observed heavy precipitation and flooding resulting in several rescues and road closures.