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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hoopfest should have warm sunshine; brutal heat stays south

The hot temps had spectators bringing their own shade during Hoopfest 2008. Fans may need those umbrellas again this weekend. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The brutal heat that’s settled into the desert Southwest is expected to stay well south of Spokane going into Hoopfest weekend.

Forecast highs in Spokane of 80 on Saturday and 87 on Sunday will be accompanied by plenty of sunshine.

As the weekend arrives, the high pressure area in the Southwest will start nudging northward, giving the Inland Northwest a small taste of what’s occurring to the south.

Phoenix hit 120 degrees Tuesday afternoon at Glendale Municipal Airport. The excessive heat is going to hang tough in that region through Sunday evening at least, forecasters said.

Spokane reached 87, which is down from a high of 88 on Monday.

In the Inland Northwest, a weak cold front on Tuesday kicked up breezy conditions, helping keep temperatures more moderate.

Highs in the middle and upper 70s through Friday will keep the region warm, but not hot, under lots of sunshine.

Tuesday’s frontal passage triggered showers and thunderstorms around the mountains of northeast Washington and North Idaho, forecasters said.

“We are in a more progressive flow,” said forecaster Jeff Cote, of the National Weather Service, about the reason the searing heat is staying to the south.

The southwest is under a strong ridge – sometimes called a dome – of higher air pressure.

That translates into hot weather.

“We are not under a ridge of high pressure,” Cote said.

Low pressure systems are located to the north. The Inland Northwest is sandwiched in between those two large-scale systems in what’s known as a flat ridge.

The flat ridge is a typical pattern for this time of year here.

But the flat ridge will begin to strengthen starting Saturday in a kind of extension of the monster ridge over the Southwest. Highs on Monday might reach the low 90s in Spokane before falling back a few degrees on Tuesday.

According to Associated Press, Phoenix has hit 120 only three times in recorded history, the last time was 22 years ago.

The all-time record is 122 degrees on June 26, 1990.

AP reported that temperatures of 118 degrees or hotter have occurred only 15 times since 1896 in Phoenix.

Heat in the Southwest has caused flight delays or cancellations, but it had little impact Tuesday on arrivals and departures at Spokane International Airport, according to airport spokesman Todd Woodard.

He said Tuesday that an American Airlines flight from Phoenix scheduled to land Tuesday afternoon had been delayed 50 minutes, but Southwest Airlines had reported no schedule changes.