U.S. Drought Monitor

Under Friday's gun-metal skies, Seattleites might be forgiven for thinking the drought gripping Washington state for the past year is over.

It’s not.

Updated 6:05 p.m. ET

Joaquin, the fourth hurricane of the Atlantic Season, is forecast to churn off the coast of Florida for the next couple of days before potentially heading north and posing a threat to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

With maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, Joaquin became a hurricane today. The storm's long-term path is still uncertain, but forecasters predict the tropical cyclone could pose a threat to the Mid-Atlantic or New England states.

rain gif
Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds speaks with Cynthia Barnett, author of "Rain: A Natural and Cultural History," about the unexpected things she learned while writing a book about rain. The book has been longlisted for a National Book Award.

Gil Aegerter

Ross Reynolds speaks with John Ratte, a New Orleans native who moved to Seattle after Hurricane Katrina devastated his city. 

The Washington drought report for Aug. 26, 2015.
U.S. Drought Monitor

Washington is seeing fire and rain this weekend, as huge wildfires burn in Chelan and Okanogan counties and a major storm bears down on the western part of the state.

“There is a potent, juicy system headed our way,” state climatologist Nick Bond told KUOW's Marcie Sillman.

It wasn't all in your head — last month was hotter than ever before.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that July had the highest average temperatures in records since 1880.

And it's not just in the U.S. Average July temperatures around the world set heat records too, NPR's Kat Chow reports.

She tells our Newscast unit that:

"This confirms what NASA and a Japanese agency found using separate data.

Hundreds of people fled wildfires that surrounded the city of Chelan after multiple lightning strikes on Friday, emergency officials said.

Residents and visitors watched dramatic scenes during the day as aerial tankers and helicopters dropped fire retardant and water in attempts to stop lines of fire advancing from the south and northeast.

Lightning over Lakeview, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Emily Neef (CC BY NC 2.0)

Jeannie Yandel talks to state climatologist Nick Bond about thunder patterns in Washington state. 

'The Blog' is indicated by dark orange on the West Coast of the U.S. The Blob is a patch of warm water that was detected by a University of Washington climatologist in 2013.
Courtesy of Nick Bond

Warm, dry weather will probably continue in the Pacific Northwest -- and may last until at least next spring.

New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates the warming ocean phenomenon in the Pacific, known as El Nino, is getting stronger.

A historically strong El Niño is taking shape according to climatologists watching the Pacific Ocean. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said during a briefing Thursday that the current El Niño has the potential to develop into one of the most potent on record by late fall or early winter.

Ross Dam on the Skagit River is one of Seattle City Light's major power generation sites.
Seattle City Light

Seattle’s electric utility says it's taking a big financial hit because of the weather: The lack of rain has affected its ability to produce surplus power to sell in the open market.

Its revenue from selling that surplus is down more than 40 percent, KUOW has learned.

The Wolverine Fire in north central Washington has burned up more than 30,000 acres. Hotshot crews are now trying to save a small Lutheran religious retreat center called Holden Village near Lake Chelan.

Mt. Hood’s Timberline Resort is the only place offering a full summer ski season in North America. But not this year. The resort closed to the public on August 2 -- five weeks earlier than normal. And that’s after a dismal winter ski season.

Firefighters are still on the scene of a quick-moving blaze that burned five homes in rural Mason County, Washington, on Friday. The destruction is evidence of dry conditions even on the west side of the Cascades.

The flooded streets and destroyed homes of the New Orleans neighborhood known as the Lower Ninth Ward were among the most powerful and iconic images from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath 10 years ago.

Now, much of New Orleans is back — more than half of the city's neighborhoods have recovered some 90 percent of their pre-storm population.

That's not the case for the Lower Ninth.

Today, there's a feeling of desolation on nearly every block of the predominantly African-American neighborhood.