Officials were keeping an eye out for lightning fires Wednesday after some 250 strikes in the Inland Northwest.
Lightning struck 29 times in Spokane County and 250 times in Eastern Washington and North Idaho as of about 7 a.m. Wednesday, said Jeremy Wolf, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Spokane. The city received its first measurable rain in more than a month Wednesday morning.
As of Wednesday evening, the lightning did not cause any new fires , said meteorologist Andy Brown.
“But that can take a couple of days sometimes, so we’re still watching that closely,” he said.
The Spokane International Airport received 0.12 inches of rain through about 7:15 a.m., Wolf said. Fairchild Air Force Base measured 0.15; Felts Field measured 0.04 inches. Only a trace was recorded in Coeur d’Alene. Spokane’s previous measurable rain was June 15.
The record for most consecutive days without measurable rain was set in 2017, when no rain was recorded for 80 days from late June to September. Even with the 0.12 inches of rain Wednesday, Spokane still has seen more than a 4-inch deficit for rainfall this “water year,” which is Oct. 1 through the end of September.
Smoke will be closely monitored, Brown said. Fires burning in the North Cascades and in Stevens County were expected to push the smoke toward the Spokane area late Wednesday into Thursday morning.
Fire danger is high as a result of lightning and drought conditions, with most of the Inland Northwest receiving little or no rain in the storm.
“It can just smolder and go undetected,” Wolfe said. “When it’s warmer and dryer out, that’s when a smoke plume presents itself.”
The high Wednesday in Spokane landed on 80 degrees, which Brown said is attributed to the cold front in the area. The normal high for the day is 85 degrees.
Thursday should see temperatures in the low to mid-80s.
“It kind of points to how strong that cool front that came in was,” he said.
The forecast shows temperatures back in the 90s Saturday.
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