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Area has experienced deadly tornadoes

As mentioned last week, this time of year can often produce deadly tornadoes across the central and eastern portions of the country. On Friday, a twister caused heavy damage to the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

On Monday, six tornadoes were spotted in North Texas with additional outbreaks expected this week.

Fortunately, in the calmer Inland Northwest, the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Rockies to the east usually protect us from extremely powerful thunderstorm activity as the moist and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico is pushed to the east. But, every spring season and sometimes during the hot summer months, we do see occasional extreme weather conditions.

The deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in our part of the country occurred on April 5-6, 1972. There were six fatalities and more than 300 injuries in Eastern Washington. Damage exceeded $50 million.

On May 31, 1997, four F1 tornadoes hit Stevens and Spokane counties in Eastern Washington. Another F1 tornado on the Fujita scale was sighted near Athol in North Idaho. Baseball-size hail damaged property in the Lewiston area. Fortunately, there were no deaths or injuries.

Locally, April 2011 will go into the record books as one of the coolest Aprils in recorded history. Although the temperature at the Spokane International Airport hit 63 degrees on April 24, it was the latest date in a calendar year for the airport to hit 60 degrees. The previous record for the latest 60-degree date in Spokane was April 22, 1917.

More records fell early this week in our region. On Monday, 0.63 inches of rain fell, breaking the old mark of 0.35 inches for the date set way back in 1893. A trace of snow was measured on that date, also tying another record.

There were more snow showers Tuesday across parts of the Inland Northwest. Temperatures once again were well below normal. The average reading for April at the airport is about 4.5 degrees below normal.

However, there are signs that the overall weather pattern will be changing to the drier and milder side in early to mid-May. I still believe that we’ll have a warm and dry summer season as a strong stationary ridge of high pressure is expected to build into the region around the middle of next month and last through at least early September. This should mean many days this summer with afternoon highs near or above 90 degrees along with a few 100-degree days.

Also, it looks like Bloomsday Sunday will be mostly dry and mild. Go Bloomies!

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at randy@