By DEAN BRICKEY
Temperatures in Pendleton, Milton-Freewater and La Grande were so low last month the National Weather Service is calling it the coldest May on record in those communities.
And precipitation at Hermiston, Heppner, La Grande and Walla Walla caused May to be the third wettest on record.
Dennis Hull, warning forecast meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Pendleton, said the average temperature was 53.3 degrees in Pendleton. That was 4.7 degrees below normal. The previous coldest May averaged 53.9 degrees in 1991.
High temperatures averaged 64.8 degrees, or 5.4 degrees below normal. The highest was 82 degrees on May 14. Low temperatures averaged 41.9 degrees, or 4 degrees below normal. The lowest was 30 degrees, on May 1, the only day the temperature dropped below freezing.
The cooler, wetter weather has been a bane for farmers and ranchers.
“The conditions in May … have delayed the maturity of our cereal crops and have contributed to much greater stripe rust than we’ve seen in previous years,” said Steve Petrie, superintendent of the Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center near Adams.
In Milton-Freewater, Hull said the average temperature was 55.8 degrees, which was 4.4 degrees below normal. Until this month, May 1962 was the coldest with an average of 56 degrees.
High temperatures last month in Milton-Freewater averaged 65.9 degrees, or 5.8 degrees below normal. The highest was 77 degrees on May 11. Low temperatures averaged 45.7 degrees, or 2.9 degrees below normal. The lowest was 39 degrees on May 1.
Ron Brown, owner of Earl Brown and Sons, a Milton-Freewater apple producer, said the colder weather hampered pollinization in late April and early May.
“We’re experiencing size problems,” Brown said. “By now, we should have much larger fruit than we have.”
Mother Nature could make up for that as the growing season continues, however, he said.
“I think it’s just making us later on heat units,” Brown said. “It’s pushing us later into the fall for harvest.”
Pendleton’s precipitation totaled 2.76 inches during May, which Hull said was 1.54 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation — at least .01 of an inch — fell on 15 days with the heaviest, 0.72 of an inch, reported May 15.
Precipitation this year in Pendleton has reached 8.10 inches, or 1.82 inches above normal. Since October, the water year precipitation at the Pendleton airport has been 14.53 inches, which is 4.15 inches above normal, Hull said.
In Hermiston, precipitation totaled 1.83 inches last month, which was 1.09 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation fell on 12 days with the heaviest, .48 of an inch, reported May 14. It was the third wettest May on record, Hull said. The wettest was 2.84 inches in 1994.
Hermiston’s precipitation this year has reached 5.50 inches, which is 1.65 inches above normal. Since October, precipitation at the Hermiston airport has been 10.85 inches, or 3.80 inches above normal.
In Heppner, precipitation totaled 3.36 inches during May, or 1.69 inches above normal. Measurable precipitation fell on 14 days with the heaviest, 2.01 inches, reported May 15. It also was the third wettest May on record for Heppner. The record was 3.45 inches in 1994.
Heppner’s precipitation this year has totaled 9.81 inches, or 2.57 inches above normal. Since October, precipitation at Heppner has been 15.73 inches, or 4.70 inches above normal.
Pendleton’s highest wind gust was 51 mph on May 11, the only day the wind exceeded 50 mph. In Hermiston, the highest gust was 55 mph on May 14.
Hull said the outlook for June from the agency’s Climate Prediction Center is for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation throughout the region.
Normal highs for Pendleton airport rise from 76.1 degrees at the start of June to 81 degrees at the end of June. Normal lows rise from 50.3 degrees to 53.3 degrees. The 30-year normal precipitation is .78 of an inch.
Hermiston should expect high temperatures ranging from 78.5 to 82.2 degrees and low temperatures from 51.4 to 54.2 degrees. Normal precipitation is .56 of an inch.
Milton-Freewater’s temperatures should range from 77.2 to 81.7 degrees on the high side and from 52.9 to 55.9 on the low end. The community’s normal precipitation in June is 1.05 inches.
In Heppner, high temperatures should range from 74.7 to 79.2 degrees and lows from 47.1 to 49.8 degrees. The 30-year average precipitation is 1.08 inches.