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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: You think this spring has been chilly? 14 years ago, a rare June snowfall shattered records

Spokane residents awoke to raindrops and snowflakes on their windows Tuesday, June 10, 2008.  (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON/The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane residents awoke to raindrops and snowflakes on their windows Tuesday, June 10, 2008. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review For The Spokesman-Review

You can bet no one in the Inland Northwest was sunbathing on June 10, 2008. Fourteen years ago tomorrow, it snowed. And yes, records were broken. After all, it’s not supposed to snow that late in our region because it doesn’t get cold enough.

But that date was a rare exception. Just 11 days before the summer solstice, temperatures were extraordinarily chilly and snow fell in the Spokane area, the Palouse and north-central Idaho.

Early that Tuesday morning, much of the region had been placed under a snow warning by the National Weather Service Spokane. The forecast was right on target as residents woke up to sputtering snow flurries and blustery arctic air.

The normal low temperature for June 10 is 49 degrees but early that morning, it was 36. Blowing wind dropped the windchill to 28 degrees near 6 a.m., making it cold enough to turn raindrops into snow.

The heaviest snow fell in Pullman, where 1.5 inches accumulated. “This was the latest measurable snowfall in Pullman since records began in 1940. In fact, no snow had ever been reported during the month of June before this date,” the National Weather Service wrote in its archives on the region’s notable monthly weather events. Moscow reported a tenth of an inch of snow, according to the agency.

It snowed a trace at Spokane International Airport and a little more in the north Spokane area, making June 10 the latest snow has fallen in the city since snow records started being kept in 1893.

And more records fell that day. Not only did Spokane see a record low for that date, but also the lowest high temperature. At just 49 degrees, it broke the previous record for June 10 of 55 degrees set in 1917.

Overall, temperatures ran about 20 degrees below normal and many residents likely nixed the idea of picnicking or bicycling and opted to turn their furnaces back on and stay inside.

What caused the rare June chill? A cold, deep trough of low pressure that originated in the Gulf of Alaska scuttled over the Inland Northwest. Normally this kind of weather pattern doesn’t make it here this time of year because the sun is strong and most of the northern hemisphere is significantly warming up during early to mid June.

By the way, on May 11, 1967, 3.5 inches of snow fell in Spokane – a lot of snow even by February standards. It remains the latest date for a notable snowfall in Spokane’s history.

All of which goes to show that sometimes Mother Nature just can’t let go of winter. We’ve certainly seen proof of it this spring. And the summer solstice is just 12 days away.

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