The inflatable raft was piled high with everything two friends could possibly need for an afternoon at the Spokane River.
Towels. Snacks and drinks. A folding chair, an umbrella. More floating devices, and even a dog – an inquisitive dachshund named Lily.
“She’s queen of the boat,” teased her owner, Nancy Ray.
With temperatures soaring into the upper 90s on Monday, Ray and her friend Stacy Martin were looking for ways to keep cool. The heat sent them to Boulder Beach in the Spokane Valley.
Temperatures are running about 10 degrees hotter than normal this time of year, increasing the allure of the Inland Northwest’s lakes and river. Monday’s high at Spokane International Airport was 98 degrees. The heat wave is expected to persist all week, with 100 degrees expected today and highs in the upper 90s through the weekend for both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
The searing heat is the result of a high pressure ridge sitting over the Western United States, said Ty Judd, National Weather Service meteorologist in Spokane. It’s deflecting cooler weather north to Canada.
For beating the heat, Martin recommends a river outing: “It’s cheap and it’s local.”
The two friends launched their raft from the beach, towing it as they swam to big, smooth rocks along the shoreline. They planned to spend the afternoon people-watching, with occasional dips in the river, while Martin’s 16-year-old son, Miles, swung out over the river on a rope swing.
Boulder Beach was also Dan Siegel’s destination. He planned to spend Monday – his birthday – floating the river with three friends. The friends, all from Spokane, launched their inner tubes at Sullivan Park after lunch, and anticipated spending the hottest part of the day on the water.
“We thought it would be a good way to get cool,” Siegel said.
The forecast also nudged Carol Lewis, of Mica, to plan a paddleboard outing on the river with friends. They spent about two hours on their boards, rocking on the wakes from powerboats.
“There’s no better place to be on a hot day than on the water,” Lewis said.
But not everyone had the leisure to head to the river. An Avista crew was repairing a gas line near Grant Park in the Perry District. By late morning, the temperature radiating from the asphalt was 125 degrees. Crew members expected to drink their way through a 5-gallon jug of ice water during their shift.
At the park, Maria Jennings, a nanny for three preschoolers, tested the temperature of the plastic slide before she let the kids slide down it. After several rounds in the splash pad, the children were ready to head home.
“I like bringing them outside in the morning. We stay in in the afternoon,” Jennings said. “The heat wears them out if they don’t get the rest time.”