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Friday, October 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Summer 2020 – It’s the first day of October, but we’re still sweating

The Spokane County Courthouse is seen through the haze on Sept. 13. The air quality was hazardous and hovered just below an AQI of 500 at the time of this photo.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane County Courthouse is seen through the haze on Sept. 13. The air quality was hazardous and hovered just below an AQI of 500 at the time of this photo. (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Of course summer 2020 was a standout season. Why would we expect anything else during such a raucous year?

Going back to June, true summer weather took its sweet time getting here in the Inland Northwest. You may recall the wet, dreary conditions that often cloaked the region during the first few weeks of the month. A steady parade of storm systems made it hard to enjoy weekends of barbecues, hikes and camping when it rained almost every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. In fact, it even rained on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year that typically gives us a glowing sun.

Then came July, when the first day was the coolest of summer, and the final day was the hottest. On July 1 in Spokane, the temperature hovered at 66 degrees – well below normal for that date. Conversely, the mercury hit 102 degrees on July 31. In between these two extremes was July 16, the later-than-normal date that Spokane experienced its first 90-degree day of summer. From that day forward, temperatures built up, eventually contributing to a late and fierce wildfire season.

Also contributing to the epic wildfire season was a rare and powerful wind event that barreled across Washington state, Oregon and Northern California on Labor Day. Warm, dry easterly winds fanned new blazes and accelerated existing ones across landscapes left parched by weeks of hot temperatures and no rain. From Okanogan County, Washington, to Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest and Fresno, California, wildfires burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed hundreds of homes. That same week, poor air quality kept us indoors as a record amount of wildfire smoke settled over West Coast states.

Warm, dry conditions kept a grip on the Inland Northwest well into September, including the autumn equinox on Sept. 22, when the mercury rose to 73 degrees in Spokane. The arrival of much-needed rain came the next day, when 0.17 inch fell. Prior to that day, Spokane had only gotten a mere 0.02 inch on Aug. 6 following a 36-day dry spell.

Today we’ve arrived at October’s doorstep, and it still feels like summer. Temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s – minus the dense smoke advisories and air quality alerts – sure, we’ll take it! As for the rest of the month, there’s no need for a major wardrobe shift just yet. Although it’s too early to say for certain, recent data suggests above-normal temperatures and near normal precipitation between now and Halloween.

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