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Washington Voices

Randy Mann: Measurements can vary a lot due to our microclimates

Thu., June 13, 2013

The scenic Inland Northwest, with its lakes, mountains and valleys, hosts a variety of climates within a relatively small area. Many observers have reported temperature, precipitation and wind observations that greatly vary from the official reporting stations used by the National Weather Service.

For example, I had a phone call from a woman who was reporting wind gusts at her home near the Spokane Valley of nearly 40 mph while other areas had wind speeds of about 20 mph.

These microclimatic differences are caused by topographical features – including latitude, longitude and altitude – as well as proximity to water.

For instance, during the summer, residents near lakes often experience milder nights and cooler days because of the moderating effects from the water. Readings may differ as much as 3 to 5 degrees from inland locations. The opposite is true during the winter, when areas away from lakes can be as much as 10 to 20 degrees colder.

Within the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area, there is a range of at least 25 microclimates. Snowfall amounts across the region vary significantly. For example, Coeur d’Alene will often receive more than double the amount of snow as Spokane because it is located closer to the mountains.

For those curious about the weather in their own backyard, there are inexpensive weather stations that are fairly reliable. The differences in one area versus the airport may be substantial.

In terms of our local weather, we should continue to see a sun and showers weather pattern into the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Beyond that, it looks drier and warmer than normal into early September. This could mean a very tough fire season for the Inland Northwest.

Contact Randy Mann at, or go to for additional information.

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