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Friday, September 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Despite seventh driest summer on record, Spokane so far has been spared major fires thanks to lack of lightning

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 4, 2020

A Spokane firefighter knocks down hot spots while battling burning brush near Sunset Highway and Grove Road on Aug. 14. Few lightning strikes have spared the region from a big wildfire season even as tempertures soared.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A Spokane firefighter knocks down hot spots while battling burning brush near Sunset Highway and Grove Road on Aug. 14. Few lightning strikes have spared the region from a big wildfire season even as tempertures soared. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Low numbers of lightning strikes have so far spared Spokane from a devastating fire season this summer, as dry months of July and August invited quick moving blazes, according to the National Weather Service.

July and August together ranked as the seventh driest two-month period in Spokane’s weather records, which go back to 1881.

Only one-fiftieth of an inch of rain fell in August, while July clocked in at three-fiftieths of an inch, said Steve Bodnar, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

While the summer started with below normal temperatures, July 14 marked a shift that brought in above normal highs, reaching 102 on July 31, just one degree shy of the record high for that day in 1929. Aug. 16 was a record-breaking 101 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Summer is not going away,” Bodnar said.

Friday hit 93 degrees, three degrees short of a record high temperature for the day. Saturday is expected to reach the same high. Highs are expected to fall into the 70s on Labor Day and Tuesday, but strong winds could fan wildfires.

Little lightning has kept fire season from spiraling in these warm and dry days. Washington and Oregon together have had about a third of their normal number of lightning strikes this summer, Bodnar said.

“The potential was there,” Bodnar said. “If we had lightning episodes, I think we’d be sitting in a much different situation.”

Smoke from far reaches has touched Spokane, though. Friday, smoke from British Columbia remained about 9,000 feet above Spokane residents’ heads, outside of the 1,000 foot range that could affect residents’ lungs.

More smoke could come in from the Cascades in coming days over the weekend but will clear out Monday, leaving smoke from British Columbia hanging above.

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