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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: First half of 2020 – a big snow, a rainy May and crummy weekends

A storm cloud southeast of Moscow, Idaho, in early June highlights one of many turbulent weather systems that rolled through our region during  (Linda Weiford/For The Spokesman-Review)
A storm cloud southeast of Moscow, Idaho, in early June highlights one of many turbulent weather systems that rolled through our region during (Linda Weiford/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The spokesman-Review

With the calendar turning to July next week, the first half of 2020 is almost over.

Even though the pandemic forced us to spend more time indoors, it seemed like the weather impacted us in a big way.

Or maybe we simply had more time on our hands to notice it.

That said, during the past six months our region experienced everything from a record snowfall in January and historic downpour in May to multiple springtime thunderstorms and a rare tornado. Although it was a wild ride at times, we’ve endured bumpier rides during other six-month periods in our weather history.

Nonetheless, the first half of 2020 made a lasting impression that began with a January snow dump. Typically, about 7 inches of snow falls in Spokane during January’s first two weeks. Instead, that amount fell in a single day. On Jan. 10, Spokane received 7 inches of snow – a record amount for that date.

Snowy, yes. Cold? Not so much. The coldest temperature during the half-year period was 13 degrees on Jan. 14 and 15. Temperatures ran above normal in January and February, with February 2020 running nearly 14 degrees warmer than February 2019.

If there was a single day that underscored the mood swings of Mother Nature, it was March 31. In less than 12 hours she delivered rain, snow flurries, graupel, thunder, lightning, strong winds and even a small tornado near Richland. Furthermore, she topped it all off with a magnitude 6.5 earthquake north of Boise, rattling cupboards in the Inland Northwest and residents’ nerves.

Rain – and plenty of it – marked the month of May, due to a series of vigorous weather systems that pushed through the region. Spokane saw 11 days of precipitation between May 12 and 22, including a record-setting deluge on May 20. The 1.4 inches of rain that fell broke the previous daily record set in 1912. To get an idea of just how drenched we got on a single day, consider that the average amount of precipitation for the entire month of May is 1.5 inches.

Speaking of rain, with the exception of one weekend, it has rained every Friday, Saturday or Sunday since mid-April. Week after week, high pressure ridges delivering sunshine and pleasant temperatures have lost their grip by the weekend. Take Saturday, May 30, for example. That’s when we awoke to a level of humidity rarely felt here in the temperate Inland Northwest – a warning sign that an unruly storm system was on its way. Sure enough, the storm of the decade barreled through, unleashing powerful wind gusts, heavy rains, thunder and spectacular lightning. Peak wind gusts of 58 mph that hit Spokane remain the strongest winds recorded there so far this year. By the time the storm system slid into Canada on Sunday, a waterlogged Washington state had been thrashed by 86,714 lightning strikes, according to the National Lightning Detection Network.

It even rained last Saturday, as we welcomed the summer solstice and longest day of the year.

As for the second half of 2020? The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predicts the Pacific Northwest will be warmer and drier than normal during July and August. Also, there’s an increasing chance that a La Nina weather pattern will start forming in the central Pacific Ocean in late summer or early fall, according to the agency. If a La Nina emerges, a cool, wet winter may await us.

Stay tuned.

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