If Spokane’s official temperature fails to reach 70 degrees Saturday as predicted, it will tie a 126-year-old record for longest start to the year without hitting 70.
The last time the city stayed below that mark for this long was May 21, 1896, said Jon Fox, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Spokane.
There is a caveat to the record.
The weather service used to take its official climate observations at a lower elevation than the Spokane International Airport, where they’re taken today, Fox said. A lower elevation typically leads to warmer weather.
Felts Field, which tends to be warmer than the airport on the West Plains, has hit 70 degrees twice this year, according to a National Weather Service blog posted Wednesday.
The temperature has reached at least 70 degrees every May at the Spokane International Airport since official climate observations were first recorded at the airport 75 years ago, according to Jennifer Simmons, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Spokane.
The highest temperature this month in the Lilac City has been 69, which happened May 4.
“That’s the warmest we’ve been all year,” Simmons said.
The National Weather Service Spokane tweeted Friday that even parts of Alaska have been warmer than Spokane, as the towns of Bethel and Palmer reached 70 this week.
Late in the season as it is, the forecast indicates Spokane’s 70-degree May trend will continue for a 76th year. A high near 72 is expected Wednesday and a high near 75 is called for Thursday.
Simmons said temperatures at Spokane International Airport normally hit 70 April 18.
Before this year, the record for the latest first 70-degree day was in 2011, when it did not hit 70 until May 11, the blog post said. That same year, it took until June 22 to reach 80 degrees, which was also a record.
The average high temperature this month in Spokane has been 58.9 degrees, well below the normal May average of 65.5 degrees, Simmons said.
La Niña is partly to blame for the cooler-than-normal temperatures, Simmons said. The climate pattern often means a wetter and cooler winter and spring in the Northwest.
Simmons said Spokane is more than one-half inch below its average May precipitation number, as 0.92 inches of rain has fallen this month as of Friday. The city’s May precipitation average is 1.55 inches.
But there are still 11 days left to reach the average mark, and Friday night’s rain and a chance of showers Saturday would boost the total.
The National Weather Service is calling for a 30% chance of rain Saturday and thunderstorms possible after 3 p.m. There’s a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9 p.m. Saturday, and then a slight chance of showers between 9 p.m. and midnight.
Sunday is expected to be sunny, and rain could return Monday. No rain is anticipated Monday night through Thursday. High temperatures will be in the 60s today through Tuesday with lows in the high 30s and 40s, according to the weather service.
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