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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Welcome, October. Farewell, ‘hotumn’

By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Besides some drifting wildfire smoke from Northern California, it’s hard to imagine conditions being more splendid than what we experienced this past week. Frost on the pumpkins? It’s more like warm sun on the season’s last tomatoes.

From Oct. 1 through Oct. 8, the days were abnormally warm and the nights comfortably cool in the Inland Northwest. With fall colors bursting and a harvest moon glowing in the night-time sky, it made it easy to drift deeper into autumn.

Bask in today’s warmth and dryness if you can. FridayTomorrow marks the onset of cooler temperatures and possibly some rain this weekend.

But first a look at the region’s spectacular weather streak. October opened with slightly smoke-filtered sunshine and highs in the mid-70s to low 80s across the region. On the first day of the month, the high temperature reached 75 degrees in Spokane. Then, Saturday, it climbed to 80 degrees. It was even great to be outdoors at night. At 9 p.m., the temperature registered a fine 60 degrees.

On Sunday, temperatures dipped to 76 degrees in Spokane, accompanied by blue skies and breeziness. Splendid October weather continued into the workweek, with temperatures ranging in the low-to-upper 70s across the region.

All of which is a complete turnaround from the same time in 2019. Where this year we saw the mercury hit 75 degrees on Oct. 1 and 80 degrees on Oct. 3, last year it capped just 52 degrees on the first day of October and 49 two days later. What’s more, a record-breaking 3.6 inches of snow fell in Spokane on Oct. 8 and there would be two more snowfalls before Halloween.

Our region’s recent spate of unseasonable warmth owes to a strong high-pressure ridge parked over much of the West. Although the ridge weakened a bit on Sunday which contributed to some scattered high clouds and breezy conditions, it rebounded early in the workweek. If this same high-pressure pattern occurred in midsummer, we’d have a heat wave. But given that it’s autumn and we have less solar radiation than summertime, we have warm temperatures and radiant conditions.

Yet, this stalled zone of high pressure will start moving out tomorrow evening, bringing cooler and somewhat unsettled conditions in time for the weekend. Cloudiness, occasional wind and rain are predicted as a “robust fall frontal system sweeps across,” according to the National Weather Service Spokane. Then partly cloudy skies and highs in the upper 50s are expected next week. Cooler and less-blue skies are hardly unusual during the second week in October. In fact, they’re normal.

Besides, it couldn’t stay summerlike forever. Although the warm temperatures will soon be behind us, the vivid color of nature’s palette will cling for a few more weeks.

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