Climate of The DLX
Weather varies significantly from year to year in the Baker area, however, the predominantly semi-arid climate keeps conditions mostly dry in the valley throughout the year. Winters are generally snowy and cold, while summers are hot and dry, but they can be cool at times. Thunderstorms are a summer afternoon highlight on occasion, with a typical average of 15-25 thunderstorms during the season. Summer high temperatures, depending on the day, range from 75-95 degrees from June-August, but as soon as fall (Late September-October) arrives, they rapidly plummet into the 55-70 degree range. Winter high temperatures range anywhere from 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit on the coldest days (and sometimes lower during a cold spell or an inversion) to 25-40 degrees on the average winter day (December-February). Nighttime lows are brutal, ranging from as low as -20 to 15 on average. Lows are almost always below 20 degrees during the winter months.
In terms of annual rainfall, this area receives 9 to 11 inches on average. In years of extreme drought, this total may not exceed 6 inches. During the wettest years, Baker will pick up anywhere from 13-16 inches, however, this is uncommon. In the Baker City area, a AWOS, (Automated Weather Observing System) located at the Baker City Municipal Airport, has been reporting local weather conditions since 1943. It sends the information it records to the National Weather Service and many other government-run data collection agencies. According to this station, the wettest year on record for the Baker City area was in the year 1978, when it reported a total of 15.76 inches. Conversely, the driest year on record at the local airport was back in 2002 when only 5.63 inches of precipitation fell.
During the winter, the precipitation in this area falls primarily in the form of snow, but, generally, it comes in small amounts. On average, depending on the distance from the Elkhorn Mountains (The nearby chain of mountains), Baker Valley will receive about 25 inches in one winter season. The highest total in one season (July-July) for the airport is 53 inches (1989), and the lowest is 6 inches (1992). Closer to the mountains, both snow and rain totals dramatically increase, because many of the storms get “stuck” on the 9,100-foot peaks of the Elkhorns and, thus, drop higher quantities of precipitation over these areas. By the time these storms make it over the mountains, they carry less water with them. However, many of the storms that impact the area come from the south or southwest where the mountains are not as tall. As a result, the area can still be impacted by a large storm.
The highest daily precipitation total for the Baker City Airport was recorded on August 31, 1984 when a rainstorm dumped 2.29 inches in a 24-hour period. Most recently, a thunderstorm on July 10, 2015 dumped the second highest total for a 24-hour period, a total 2.03 inches at the Baker City Airport. According to the DLX Weather Station on the same day (7/10/15), a total of 1.68 inches was recorded. The saying “Rain doesn’t fall the same on all” comes in to play here. In the Baker City area, there is an average of one “incher” storm per year, or a storm that at least comes close to this.