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

Weathercatch: Spokane’s dry streak is approaching two months. But it could be a lot worse

Seen from the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza, the smoky red sun sets near Our Lady of Lourdes cathedral on Sept. 8, 2017.  (JESSE TINSLEY/The Spokesman-Review)
By Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Remember the last time it rained in Spokane? Probably not. The last measurable rainfall was on June 10, with 0.12 inches. Thursday is Aug. 3, which means the dry streak has lasted 54 days, which is seven weeks and five days.

Seems like a long time, doesn’t it?

The few showers and thunderstorms that passed through parts of the Inland Northwest Saturday night produced some raindrops, but not enough to be measurable – meteorologically defined as one-hundredth of an inch or more.

Now that we’ve entered August, we’ll likely see more light sprinkles and spatters. Measurable rainfall, however, may be harder to come by. After all, August is typically the driest time of year. While the Spokane area usually receives some amount of precipitation this month, it generally doesn’t add up to much.

Take last year, for example. Only a trace of rain fell in August , meaning you might have seen raindrops, but the amount that fell was too small to measure.

That period marked one of 10 Augusts that measured a trace of rain since records began in 1881, according to meteorologist Jeremy Wolf of the National Weather Service Spokane. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the same month was also Spokane’s hottest August on record.

If this summer’s 54 consecutive days of arid weather has you longing for enough rain to dampen the landscape, keep in mind that it could be a lot drier. In 2017, Spokane experienced a record 80-day dry stretch that began on June 29 and didn’t end until the evening of Sept. 17. Raindrops fell during that period, but not in measurable amounts, according to Wolf. No matter how dry a particular August might seem, the month has never been documented as totally rainless, he added.

If Spokane’s current 54-day dry streak seems overly long, imagine a streak that lasts 240 days. In 2020, Las Vegas went eight months with no measurable rainfall. The city’s record-breaking dry spell began on April 20 and ended on Dec. 17 when it rained a celebratory 0.04 inches.

By the way, the wettest August recorded in Spokane occurred in 1923, with 2.12 inches of rainfall.

That amount would be considered below average in many parts of the country. In Dallas, the average rainfall total for August is 2.18 inches, while Chicago gets an average of 3.4 inches, Cleveland reports 2.8 inches and Washington, D.C., receives 3.25 inches.

Monsoonal moisture moving north from the Southwest brings a slight chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms to the Inland Northwest on Friday and Saturday. Should that transpire, a wetting rain will put an end to our dry streak. But it’s just as likely a trace amount will simply lengthen it.