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Cooler temperatures for this year’s Hoopfest

Sun., June 28, 2009

It’s Hoopfest weekend, and fortunately players and spectators alike will be able to enjoy some summer sun without dealing with the scorching heat.

Last year, the three-on-three basketball tournament saw its warmest temperatures ever, as afternoon readings soared into the upper 90s. The high for June 28, 2008, was 97 degrees, just one degree shy of tying the record of 98 set back in 1939. Average highs this time of year are in the upper 70s, with average lows in the lower 50s.

Both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, however, have not been immune to seeing triple digits in June. In 1992, Spokane had its warmest June temperatures ever as the temperature sizzled up to 102 on June 23. Coeur d’Alene saw 100-plus heat in June 1973 and 1961.

This year, we have yet to officially breach the 90-degree mark in Spokane or Coeur d’Alene, though Spokane did manage an extreme on the other end of the spectrum. Last Sunday, the temperature failed to climb above 55 degrees, setting the record for the coldest maximum temperature for June 21 – the first full day of summer! A full 16 hours of daylight was no match for the cold air in place, the cloudy skies, and the showers. Though the longest days are now behind us, we usually won’t see our hottest temperatures until the end of July and early August.

While we’ve been enjoying what most folks would consider comfortable warmth in the middle and upper 70s, I’ve been hearing the wails of agony from friends in the Midwest who have been suffering from an early summer heat wave.

We have all heard the cliché, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” It’s true, 90 degrees here just does not feel the same as 90 degrees in the Midwest. Many people make the mistake of looking at a variable called the “relative humidity” to gauge whether conditions outside are muggy or not. But relative humidity is, as the term states, “relative” to the temperature. One hundred percent relative humidity at 20 degrees still does not make for a moist air mass.

Consider how powdery snow gets at colder temperatures – it has a much lower moisture content. Likewise, saturated air at colder temperatures is not equally as moist as saturated air at higher temperatures. The dew point temperature is a much better indicator of mugginess. A 90-degree air temperature with a 70-degree dew point will result in a measly 52 percent relative humidity. Believe me though, you would be sweating a river under those conditions and the heat index would be around 96 degrees.

More typical of the Inland Northwest, however, would be 90 degrees with a dew point of 45. That would result in a heat index of 86 degrees – it would actually feel 10 degrees cooler.

Michelle Boss can be reached at weatherboss@

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