Summer is officially here in the Inland Northwest. On Monday, Spokane International Airport was a very warm 85 degrees. It was 87 degrees in the northwestern portion of Coeur d’Alene. Temperatures have cooled thanks to a storm system that moved in on Tuesday.
It seems like we’re breaking heat records every day across the country – though Spokane’s highest temperature hasn’t been topped in more than 50 years. On Aug. 4, 1961, it was 108 at Spokane International Airport. It was 109 in Coeur d’Alene on that same day. Although these are hot temperatures, they don’t compare to the 134 degrees measured in Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913.
In terms of overall world heat, the combination of land and water temperatures, May 2014 was the hottest in more than 130 years, according to NOAA. In fact, ocean temperatures were the warmest in recorded history with a reading of 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. With a new El Nino, the abnormal warming of ocean temperatures, average readings will likely climb in the coming months.
As our climate continues to change, we’re also seeing more droughts across the globe. California is in the grips of its worst drought in recorded history. In Spokane, the driest calendar year was 1929, when we received just 7.54 inches. The normal is more than 16.5 inches. Coeur d’Alene measured 15.18 inches in 1929, compared to a normal of nearly 27 inches of moisture. But 7 or 15 inches sound like a lot when compared to this: No measurable moisture was gauged in Iquique, Chile, from November 1945 to May 1957, a dry spell that lasted for about 11.5 years.
One of the most amazing statistics is the highest precipitation. From August 1860 to July 1861, Cherrapunji, India, recorded 1,041.78 inches of rain, an all-time global record. That’s an average of 2.85 inches per day! In Spokane, the most ever received in one day was 2.22 inches on June 7, 1888. The 24-hour record in Coeur d’Alene is 4.50 inches gauged in Dec. 21, 1996, the year of the big floods. The most precipitation Spokane International Airport recorded for an entire year was 26.07 inches in 1948. Coeur d’Alene measured its all-time annual high precipitation total of 43.27 inches in 2012. By the way, Spokane measured 21.32 inches in 2012.