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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A first for 2024: Inland Northwest to hit 80 degrees and higher this weekend

Temperatures are expected to reach the 80s by this weekend in Spokane as a round of warm weather settles over the Inland Northwest for at least a week.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

Take out your T-shirts and shorts. The season’s first surge of 80-degree weather is set to spread across the Inland Northwest starting Friday and sticking around through this weekend.

High temperatures are projected to reach 81 degrees in Spokane by Saturday and into the upper 80s in places such as Yakima, Wenatchee and Lewiston-Clarkston. The Tri-Cities may hit 90. What’s more, Mother’s Day on Sunday is expected to bear gifts of equally warm temperatures, along with ample sunshine.

The beginning of this week was marked with showers, wind gusts and a nosedive in temperatures, so the spring warm-up comes as welcome news. In fact, the National Weather Service Spokane even quoted The Beatles’ hit “Here Comes the Sun” in its daily online forecast discussion.

And it appears the sun will be with us for a while. The Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall in Washington state through May 19. The bull’s-eye of warm, dry conditions is expected to be centered just east of the Cascade Range in Washington and Oregon, extending into Idaho and parts of Montana, according to the agency’s 14-day outlook.

Where’s the heat coming from? Temperatures will begin rising midweek as a ridge of high pressure builds over the West Coast. As the ridge intensifies and expands, the air beneath it will sink and warm up. The high-pressure pattern, which also keeps storm systems at bay, is expected to be firmly established over Washington by Friday. This should ratchet up temperatures to the upper 70s across much of the Inland Northwest just before the weekend.

If the Spokane area breaks 80 degrees Saturday, it will put us right on schedule for the average first 80-degree day of May 12.

Last year, however, was another story. You may recall that Mother Nature delivered a springtime scorcher to our region in 2023. On April 30, Spokane International Airport reached 82 degrees. On May 2-3, daily temperature records toppled as the mercury climbed to 85 degrees. And on May 20, another record was shattered when Spokane hit 90 degrees. Ultimately, the month became the hottest May observed in 143 years of weather record-keeping.

This May, the shift toward summer is less abrupt or severe. After a cool start, conditions are warming as we head toward the weekend. And if the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook is correct, we can expect a stretch of unseasonably warm – but not hot – temperatures through mid-May.

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