Here we are on May 22nd, 2016 and it’s a typical cool, rainy day we get in May here in the Puget Sound AVA, but if you dialed the clock back a few weeks you would’ve thought it was July!
Above is the Growing Degree chart for a nearby WSU weather station. Click on it to expand it but from the thumbnail you can see from January to around mid May 2015 had more degree days than any of the previous years this station had recorded. For those that forgot, 2015 was full of sunny, warm days starting in January and continuing most of the summer. We had some rain right at the end of harvest that made us lose some grapes but for the most part it was a hot and dry summer.
2016, on the other hand, started out quite normally with rain and cool weather. The heat didn’t kick on until March and it seemed like summer came very early. In the chart above you can see where 2016 crosses 2015 in late April and seems to just take off and it shows in the vineyard right now. Growth is weeks ahead of what I consider normal, flowering is just right around the corner and many vines hitting the top wire already. But the seemingly endless heat came to an end a few days ago and we’ve had a lot of rain and clouds which is actually pretty normal this time of years.
I am always trying to see into the future when it comes to the vineyard and so are climate scientist. They are saying that El Nino is wrapping up and we are headed into an La Nina year, which is cooler and wetter for us here in the PNW. I have seen it rain from the middle of August all winter long and a complete loss of crop or sometimes it just gets really cool, but stays dry. That happened back in 2001 and we actually harvested on November 2nd that year.
Looking at the Climate Prediction Center website, it appears they think we will get back into some hotter and drier weather this summer and for my grapes I sure hope so.
Above is the June-July-August outlook which shows hotter and drier weather.
I have struggled to keep up with the heat this year. The grass and super early budbreak has put me off kilter trying to stay on top of it. The dry weather has also allowed me to work in the evenings when I haven’t normally been able to do that. But I think I have caught up. Keep checking in to follow along and see what’s happening!