The official start of spring still is a week away, but a thunderstorm that passed through Spokane on Monday was another sure sign of a changing season.
“It’s that time of year,” said Milt Maas, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Spokane.
Heavy rain, hail and lightning accompanied the quick-moving storm.
In the downtown area, sunlight from the southwest sky streamed in under the clouds, creating a natural light show complete with a rainbow.
The storm dumped an eighth-inch of hail and .16 inches of precipitation at the NWS office at Spokane International Airport.
Maas said areas closer to the foothills around Spokane had more precipitation, maybe as much as a quarter of an inch.
The storm was carried behind a weather front that spread across the region Monday morning. Sun breaks at midday west of Spokane caused warm air to rise into colder air. That created a strong updraft and fed more moisture into the clouds.
The tops of the clouds were estimated at 20,000 feet, where temperatures are more than 20 degrees below zero.
Traffic throughout the city was slowed by reduced visibility and ice on streets.
March is proving to be a wetterthan-normal month, but nothing compared to some places in California. Redding, Calif., for example, has had 9 inches of rain this month.
Spokane has recorded 1.69 inches of precipitation as of 5 p.m. Monday. That compares with a normal precipitation of .60 inches through March 13.
The forecast calls for continuing periods of rain through Wednesday with clearing expected on Thursday and Friday. Highs will be in the mid to upper 50s.
Spring officially begins at 6:20 p.m. next Monday.