Friday, on the final day of what has been an unusually warm and dry summer, South Sound residents can look forward to another week – at least – of the same.
“The latter half of the summer has definitely been drier than normal and warmer than normal,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jay Albrecht said. “As we’ve gotten into September, usually a month where you’re starting to cool off, we’re really stuck in this pattern.”
Only two days since mid-July saw even a measurable trace of rain, and it was the driest August since 1974, according to the Weather Service. Five days had highs in the 90s this year, compared to an annual average of three.
That warm, dry weather is partly due to the same persistent upper level high pressure system that caused the Midwest’s heat wave this year.
But that might change by next week, when forecasters think it might finally rain, Albrecht said.
Still, the long summer made for championship conditions on South Sound golfing greens.
“It makes for a stronger grass and kind of more hearty playing surface,” said Chambers Bay director of golf Nicholas Pike.
That’s pretty much a golfer’s dream, he said, comparable to what the course will look like for the U.S. Open in 2015.
The conditions have brought a lot of golfers out through late September, even though they usually hold off a few weeks for the course’s prices to drop in October, he said.
“There are so many more shots that you’re able to hit,” Pike said. “People know how good it is out there and how lucky we are to have that long of a summer.”
Farther south, “Our greens are as good as they’ve ever been,” said Stu Aden, head pro at the Tumwater Valley Municipal Golf Course.
The weather also bode well for waterfront businesses.
“People love to get outside, dine at the waterfront, and so that’s been really great, now that that’s continuing into September,” Anthony’s Restaurants spokeswoman Inge Kaiser said about their Tacoma and Olympia locations. “We even have blankets that we give to our guests as the evenings wind down – as the sun sets earlier, people still want to be outside.”
The good weather brought Spanaway resident Lisa Green to Tacoma’s waterfront restaurants throughout the summer on her motorcycle.
“The summer was longer, so we were able to be on our bikes more,” she said after enjoying ladies night at The Ram with a friend this week.
The warm weather hasn’t been a problem for her yard, Green said.
“The sprinkler system has been able to keep up,” she added.
It’s too early to tell how the dry summer affected water usage in the region, Tacoma and Olympia city officials said. In Tacoma, usage was up, but not significantly, said spokeswoman Chris Gleason, who was unable to provide specifics for this summer.
“We just had a brown lawn,” Tacoma resident Gerald Edwards said with a laugh, as he carried 2-year-old grandson Alex on his shoulders while walking on the Les Davis Pier. “I’m glad, because when it doesn’t rain, I don’t have to cut it.”
Like the golf greens, the weather helped some South Sound gardens.
“It’s actually kind of nice to get some of the moss to dry out,” said Nancy Simpson, as she enjoyed an Owen Beach picnic with her family this week. “Our roses have really bloomed. They do better in the sun.”
Slip and slides, sprinklers and the neighbor’s pool were fun this summer, said Simpson’s daughters, Leah, 5, and Adria, 7.
But they’re ready for what comes next.
“The leaves fall down and change colors,” Leah said. “It’s fun to have rain again.”