Bicyclists ride through an atmosphere of dense smoke on Aug. 13 at the diversion dam at Bennington Lake. Smoky skies covered the Walla Walla Valley for large portions of the month.

The last full month of summer was hot, smoky and dry. But take heart — fall is on the way.

Early August delivered the hottest day of the year, Aug. 8, during a heat wave that peaked at 108 degrees. Cooler weather moved in starting mid-month, bringing much-needed relief along with the lowest low — 51 degrees — on Aug. 28.

After zero precipitation in July, rainfall remained scant, with only 0.09 inches recorded during the month, an amount 0.48 inches below normal. A trace amount of rain on Aug. 16, followed by 0.02 inches the next day, broke a 67-day dry spell that started on June 10.

Total rain and snow for the year now stands at 9.59 inches, which is 3.49 inches below normal. Precipitation for the water year, which starts in October and reflects spring runoff, is 16.83 inches, 3.27 inches below normal.

Air quality on more than one occasion was a concern as smoke from wildfires blanketed the state, prompting alerts for unhealthy and hazardous air conditions. The smoke cut down suitable working days for agriculture as the winter wheat harvest began winding down, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The highest wind gust of the month was 38 mph on Aug. 3, as recorded at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

This month marks the change of seasons with the fall equinox on Sept. 22 — the astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Temperatures should begin cooling down in the coming days with normal daytime highs falling from 83 degrees to 72 degrees at the end of September. Normal nighttime lows will go from 57 degrees to 48 degrees.

Provided seasonal trends return to normal, rainfall during this month is expected to be 0.75 inches, based on a 30-year average.

Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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