It was hard to let go of the dazzling blue skies and near-80-degree temperatures we enjoyed last weekend. The impressive high-pressure system responsible for the summery weather would have produced significantly hotter weather had the month been June instead of late September.
Not surprisingly for this time of year, the system lost its muster when a cold front dipped down from southern British Columbia into the Pacific Northwest on Sunday night. The front ushered in notably cooler temperatures and some rainfall to the Inland Northwest, along with breezy conditions that blew a profusion of leaves to the ground. By Tuesday of this week, high temperatures were more than 20 degrees cooler than those we basked in during the weekend.
Oh, but the weather change could have been far more drastic.
Two years ago this week, Spokane saw record cold temperatures and record snowfall. If you were here, you probably remember that period quite well. Late-season garden vegetables died, roads and sidewalks turned slippery, and we shoveled our driveways like it was the peak of winter.
When it began, we were barely into autumn 2019. Following a stretch of pleasant weather in the upper 60s to low 70s, an intense, cold low-pressure trough swooped in from the north, a rarely-seen pattern so early in the fall. On Saturday, Sept. 28, Spokane received 1.9 inches of snow. Not only was this the first time it snowed on that date in Spokane’s recorded history, but it was also the city’s earliest snowfall in almost 100 years. Meanwhile, more was one the way. Overnight, an additional 1.4 inches fell in the Spokane area. As the sun came up on Sunday morning, Sept. 29, a total of 3.3 inches of snow covered the ground, making that month the snowiest September in the city’s history.
And talk about Brrrr. That same Sunday, the high temperature reached just 38 degrees, making it the coldest Sept. 29 on record. Then on the morning of Monday, Sept. 30 – exactly two years ago today – much of Eastern Washington and North Idaho were under freeze warnings. Patches of black ice developed on sidewalks, bridges and roads.
Regarding this week’s pattern change, it’s reasonable to say we got off easy. In the waning days of September, most of us would take cool temperatures, clouds and rain over record-breaking cold and snow.
What’s more, a high-pressure system building over the Pacific Northwest is replacing chilly, wet conditions with sunshine and milder temperatures here in the Inland Northwest. Expect high temperatures to run near 70 degrees during October’s opening days this weekend. Overnight lows in the low 40s means there’s little chance of frost and a bit more life to eke out of the vegetable garden.
Nic Loyd is a meteorologist in Washington state. Linda Weiford is a writer in Moscow, Idaho, who’s also a weather geek. Contact: email@example.com
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