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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Has summer’s swelter peaked?

By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

As we enter the second half of August, some may wonder if the peak of heat is finally behind us. After all, July was hotter than any month in Spokane’s recorded history – 140 years to be exact. Record-breaking high temperatures have taken a toll on us, our fans, our air conditioners, our lawns.

While it’s safe to say the worst of the heat has departed, the chance of reaching 90 degrees remains fairly high through the end of this month and well into September. Let’s call them secondary peaks.

In Spokane, the average high temperature typically falls from 86 to 78 from early to late August, and the average overnight low drops from 58 to 51. However, because summer so far has been on the blistering side of normal, August could run above normal as well.

Last year at this time we were just coming off an excessive heat warning. Spokane reached 101 degrees on Aug. 16 and 100 on Aug. 17. The mercury dipped a bit to 97 degrees on Aug. 18 and to 91 degrees on Aug. 19 – precisely one year ago today. Although August usually runs a tad cooler than July, last year it ran slightly warmer than July.

In 1915, Spokane experienced its hottest August on record. Ironically, the July that preceded it ran below normal.

As for rain? We didn’t get much in August 2020, and chances are we won’t see much this month. Spokane’s typical rainfall during August adds up to a little more than a half-inch. Conversely, the normal amount for Washington, D.C., is 2.93 inches. Obviously, July and August tend to run dry in our region.

For many people, August feels hotter, even when it’s not. We’re burned out on the heat, especially when we’ve just lived through a sweltering June and July like this year. The feeling of burnout is compounded by what we see. Green lawns have turned brown. Flowers are frayed and drooped. Dried leaves are falling from trees. Even well-watered plants are feeling the strain.

Western wildfire smoke filling our skies adds to the problem. Socked in by haze, we develop a type of “smoke fatigue” accompanied by burning eyes, a runny nose and scratchy throat.

Cool, crisp autumn air never sounded so good.

For those loathing the heat, know that the worst is behind us. Sure, we’ll have some more hot days and maybe even another heat wave or two. But it’s highly unlikely the extreme, prolonged heat we endured in late June through July will repeat itself. Little by little, the jet stream will draw cooler air from Canada.

In other words, the worst of our summer’s heat is now history.

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