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Pushing 60 and 70: Warm weather records are falling all over the Spokane area

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 1, 2021

Warm air from over the Pacific Ocean is breaking high temperature records throughout the Inland Northwest.

The city hit a high of 59 degrees Wednesday at the Spokane International Airport, beating the old daily record of 57 degrees on Dec. 1, 1925. The record for the highest temperature recorded in Spokane during December is 60 degrees on Dec. 10, 1939.

The average high temperature in Spokane on Dec. 1 is 37 degrees.

“It’s been breezy and mild enough, these temperatures are not behaving like December temperatures,” said Greg Koch, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Spokane.

Ephrata and Wenatchee hit 68 degrees by midday Wednesday, setting monthly record highs for those cities.

Koch said the angle of the sun in December makes it difficult to achieve high temperatures in the Inland Northwest unless warmer air is blown in from somewhere else.

The warmth today is courtesy of the central Pacific, and is aided by warmer-than-usual ground temperatures, Koch said. The ground often already would be frozen, but mild weather in the past several days has kept ground temperatures in the 40s.

The low temperature Wednesday morning was 48 degrees. If that holds through midnight, that would set the record for the highest low for Dec. 1 by 4 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to fall somewhat in the next few days, but they likely will remain a few degree above normal through early next week, Koch said.

The warm weather kept the Numerica Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park closed for the fourth day in a row, and Inland Northwest ski resorts remained closed.

Winter, by the meteorological definition (Dec. 1 to Feb. 28), began Wednesday morning, but the weather is feeling more like midfall or midspring in many parts of the contiguous United States. High temperatures are set to spike 20 to 30 degrees or more above normal through Thursday, with the core of the unusual warmth over the eastern Rockies and the nation’s heartland. In much of that area, temperatures will swell into the 60s and 70s.

Through the end of the week, the National Weather Service projects 90 record highs across the country.

Though the intensity of the warmth will ease by the weekend, there are signs that milder-than-average weather could prevail over most of the Lower 48 into at least mid-December.

Relatively cooler conditions will exist across portions of the Northeast and New England thanks to a steady stream of air filtering down from Canada and the north, but only that sliver of the country should experience the chill.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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