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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Weathercatch: Summer solstice came and went without an 80-degree day in Spokane, but the warmest stretch lies ahead – here’s why

Heather Hills and her daughter Olivianna clutch umbrellas as they pass Doug Clark as he plays the song “Secret Agent Man” during the 20th annual Street Music Week on Monday, June 13, 2022, in downtown Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Three days into summer, it’s odd to think we’re starting to see a little less daylight. After all, the Inland Northwest should be well into its dry season with toasty temperatures and ample blue skies.

Instead, until recently we saw temperatures run as much as 20 degrees below normal and lots of gray, cloudy days. And talk about feeling waterlogged. The first half of June logged 2.46 inches of rainfall in Spokane – twice the 1.18 inches that typically falls for the entire month. The storm system that delivered 0.08 inches of rain to the area Saturday also brought high temperatures more common in late April, not a few days before the summer solstice.

Speaking of the summer solstice, by the time we reached the longest day of 2021, Spokane had already experienced 15 days of temperatures at 80 degrees or higher. On the other hand, when 2022’s solstice arrived on Tuesday, we had zero .

Conditions finally felt more summerlike this week. Which begs the question: how long will the warm, dry weather last?

If you’re concerned about a cool, dreary summer of empty beaches, poolsides and picnic tables, we’d like to offer a shot of hope. Although summer solstice 2022 has come and gone, the warmest days of the year are still ahead of us. How do we know? It’s a phenomenon known as seasonal lag, the delay between the year’s longest day and the period of warmest average temperatures. Simply put, it takes time for the earth to heat up from winter’s chill. That’s why, even as the days get shorter, average temperatures move steadily upward in many places throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Here in the Inland Northwest, expect the sun to gradually retreat even as the weather gets consistently warmer in July and August. Land and water alike need extra time to absorb heat. That’s why you’re likely to go ankle-deep in an area lake this month but take a full plunge next month.

It also helps that the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is projecting elevated temperatures and a below-normal chance of precipitation in our region Saturday through midway next week.

Of course, we can’t predict just how hot the weather will get during July and August or know for certain that dark clouds won’t foul outdoor plans. But it’s safe to say the warmest days of 2022 are yet to come. So keep the outdoor folding chairs, swimsuits and ice cream within reach.

Nic Loyd is a meteorologist in Washington state. Linda Weiford is a writer in Moscow, Idaho, who’s also a weather geek. Contact: