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The heat is on this weekend

Fri., Aug. 15, 2008

Officials warn of wildfire danger as mercury could top 100 in Spokane

Expect sun and children begging for a trip to the water park as temperatures – and fire danger – soar for what could be the hottest days so far this year.

The mercury will flirt with triple digits and Spokane records this weekend, with the National Weather Service forecasting a high of 99 Saturday and 101 Sunday. Coeur d’Alene is looking at highs near 98 degrees.

There have been a few 97-degree days in Spokane this year, but none higher than 100. Spokane’s record high for Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 is 100, both set in 1967.

The high temperatures also bring increased wildfire danger. Much of the early-summer greenery has dried out, and the hot weather only increases its potential as fire fuel.

“Each time we run into a high-temperature, low-humidity day, the potential for that fire spread does increase,” said natural resource specialist Forrest Ownbey of the Washington state Department of Natural Resources. “It just kind of compounds on itself because the fuels keep getting drier.”

Fire bans prohibiting recreational and open-pit burning are in effect for Kootenai County and most of Spokane County. Most wildfires in the Spokane area are human-caused, Ownbey said, and following those bans becomes critical when the fire risk is high.

The heat will peak Saturday in the middle of the state. Wenatchee could hit a record-breaking 106 degrees, forecasters say. Lewiston could match a 107-degree record from 1897.

Next week will stay hot but with far more manageable highs – in the 80s and low 90s in the Spokane area.

The normal high temperature this time of year is 83.


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