The rains finally came this weekend, but for those wanting meaningful moisture the precipitation was depressingly meager.
Most of Washington got rain, but only a few hundredths of an inch. Parts of the Idaho Panhandle didn’t get even the light drizzle that fell in Eastern Washington.
“Hundredths of an inch is just enough rain to wet the pavement,” National Weather Service Spokane Meteorologist Travis Wilson said. “We’re not talking about anything that’s going to make a dent in drought conditions.”
The sky Sunday wasn’t just gray due to drizzle. Air quality in Spokane was in the “unhealthy” range due to wildfire smoke.
Wilson said an incoming weather system could improve air quality Thursday, although he noted that predicting winds and air quality is difficult.
“That could push out all this bad air and replace it with cleaner Pacific air,” Wilson said. “But that’s all up in the air. … It’s all dependent on the fires and what they do and where one pops up.”
The weak rains falling this weekend were accompanied by lightning, which is always a concern for firefighters during wildfire season.
Wilson said as of 5 p.m. Sunday our region had 117 ground-to-cloud lightning strikes during the weekend.
Six of those strikes were in Spokane County. Whitman County had 33 and Shoshone County in North Idaho had 34, with more coming due to an ongoing storm.
The rains Sunday cooled temperatures down slightly, but people hoping for a respite from extreme heat won’t like what they see in the forecast.
Wilson said temperatures will climb once again early this week, hitting the upper 90s by Wednesday.
“I wish I had better news,” Wilson said.
The heat returns after Spokane smashed a previous record for the hottest July in recorded history, based on the average recorded temperature at Spokane International Airport. July 2021 saw an average temperature of 77.5 degrees, besting a record of 75.9 degrees recorded in July 1906, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather system due Thursday could help though, which Wilson said will “help us cool down quite a bit.”
Temperatures could drop back into the 80s on Thursday and potentially even the 70s on Friday.
“Cooler weather is coming,” Wilson said. “We’ve just got to get through this heat first.”
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