LONG BEACH - This October, with 1.9 inches of rain, was the second driest in the past two decades on the Peninsula, beaten only by October 1987, when .99 inches were recorded.

Average precipitation during October in the years since 1982 is 6.34 inches. The longer-term average for the month during the years up to 1990 was 7.14 inches. In the most recent five years, only October 1999 was above average, with 7.44 inches. Last October, 5.45 inches of water fell from the sky.

The wettest October in recent history was in 1997, when a gutter-busting 15.58 inches brought widespread flooding of low-lying areas on the Peninsula. The month also was exceptionally wet in 1996, with 11.29 inches.

Meteorologists attributed the Northwest's dry spell to a ridge of high pressure offshore that held autumn storms well out to sea. The high pressure may have resulted from warmer-than-usual ocean waters off Washington and British Columbia.

Lack of rainfall is causing problems for some area residents who rely on wells for water. The level of Ilwaco's Black Lake is several feet below normal after being drawn down for cranberry harvesting, and lacking normal rain amounts that would recharge it.

But more normal wet conditions finally returned this week.

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