National Weather Service forecasters said the high could reach a record-breaking 100 degrees on Friday before the heat wave eases back into the 90s on Saturday and Sunday and middle 80s by Monday.
The record high in Spokane for July 7 is 99 degrees, which was set in 1968. Thursday’s high at Spokane International Airport was 98, while it reached as high as 102 in places like Felts Field.
Splash and swimming pads were popular places to be on Thursday as temperatures soared to the upper 90s in Spokane.
“This is great. This is cool,” said Jeff Bishop, while watching children play in the Garry Park splash pad on East Mission Avenue.
A strong high pressure area moved into the Inland Northwest over the past few days, bringing with it the hottest weather so far this summer.
The high pressure acted like weight in the atmosphere, compressing air toward the ground and causing it to heat up.
Forecaster Jon Fox said the high pressure this week is as strong or stronger than any since 1948.
He said computer models show that another round of hot weather may be in store late next week.
“This just might be a tease,” Fox said.
The weather service posted a red flag warning for fire danger for Friday afternoon across a broad swath of the Columbia Basin and east Cascades slopes, including cities of Ritzville, Moses Lake, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Chelan, Yakima and Ellensburg.
The warning will be in effect Friday from 2 to 9 p.m. for a combination of wind, extreme heat and low humidity.
A weak cold front will stir up southwest wind gusts in the warning area to 25 mph with relative humidities of 9 to 16 percent on Friday afternoon, forecasters said.
The cold front “will bring an increase in winds regionwide but the strongest winds will focus through the Cascade gaps spilling into the western Columbia Basin,” forecasters said in an online posting.
Calls for heat relief were coming in at a fast pace at Air Design Heating & Air Conditioning, 1807 E. Francis Ave.
Customers were calling to price new air-conditioning units or to schedule a repair on units that were not working, said Jami Dumaw.
“We’ve gotten lots of calls this week,” she said.
Dumaw said the calls follow a predictable pattern every time it goes to 90 degrees or hotter.
A salesperson at Holiday Heating & Air Conditioning, 410 N. Helena St., said she was hearing from customers who had air conditioner breakdowns. The salesperson said air conditioners should be checked for a plugged air filter, which can cause the airconditioning not to work.
Looking ahead, forecasters said computer models after Thursday are pointing to another heat wave.
Model consistency is growing. “We could see another … high develop with strong south-southwest flow and a return of very hot temperatures,” forecasters said.
Average temperatures in Spokane for this time of year are 81 for a high and 55 for a low.
Lows during the current heat wave will be in the middle 60s, which will inhibit cooling indoors overnight.
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