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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Smoke rolls into Spokane; near-record heat on tap, but slight reprieve is forecast

UPDATED: Wed., July 14, 2021

Kerrie Miles says she has her own built-in shade with a pair of umbrellas as she reads a book while her son, Logan, participates in the Skyhawks Sports Academy golf camp, Tuesday at Prairie View Park in Spokane.  (Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Kerrie Miles says she has her own built-in shade with a pair of umbrellas as she reads a book while her son, Logan, participates in the Skyhawks Sports Academy golf camp, Tuesday at Prairie View Park in Spokane. (Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Smoke and heat enveloped Spokane on Tuesday, and the region is once again expected to be hit by high temperatures and potentially wildfire friendly weather, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane.

Midlevel winds shifted to blowing southward on Tuesday, resulting in smoke rolling in from large Canadian wildfires.

The smoke resulted in air that was “unhealthy for some” in Spokane after the region experienced good air quality on Sunday and Monday, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

The smoke is expected to stick around most of the day on Wednesday as well.

Greg Koch, a meteorologist with NWS Spokane, said winds should shift and begin blowing the smoke west late Wednesday and early Thursday.

But if the wildfire near Nespelem in Okanogan County gets worse or if new wildfires start near Spokane, it is likely that new smoke could blow in and worsen air quality levels despite the wind shift, according to Koch.

The wildfire near Nespelem had burned over 10,000 acres and seven homes as of Tuesday.

Despite potential air quality improvements, NWS Spokane forecasts that the Spokane area will remain hazy until Saturday.

Some smoke can reduce visibility and create hazy conditions that will dull the sky and obscure faraway landmarks without significantly impacting air quality, according to Koch.

A heat advisory is in place until 8 p.m. Wednesday, and temperatures could reach triple digits.

“We can’t rule out records being broken,” said Ken Daniel, a meteorologist at NWS Spokane.

The July 13 record at Spokane International Airport is 102 degrees and the July 14 record is 101 degrees.

Tuesday’s high was 97. Wednesday, a high of 99 is expected, but that number is close enough that the record could be tied or broken, according to Daniel.

Spokane in 2021 had its driest, and second hottest, Feb. 1 through July 10 stretch since record-keeping began in 1881, according to the National Weather Service.

And with wildfires already burning across Washington, the National Weather Service has put in place a red flag warning from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening.

NWS Spokane predicts winds from 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. The humidity is also forecast to be very low, potentially creating a perfect storm for wildfire growth.

New fires could spread rapidly and the conditions could pose challenges to firefighters looking to control existing fires.

Luckily, Eastern Washington is finally forecast to get a reprieve from the heat starting Thursday and ending Sunday.

Temperatures should be seasonably warm and linger around the mid-80s to low 90s, according to the National Weather Service.

But temperatures will once again shoot to the high 90s on Sunday.

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