An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

It's been a busy year already for thunderstorms

Courtesy National Weather Service

The Inland Northwest is heading into its peak time for thunderstorms, but already it’s been an active season.

Andy Brown from the National Weather Service in Spokane says his office issues most of its severe thunderstorm warnings in the spring and summer months. They are invoked whenever meteorologists predict one of two events: winds 58 miles an hour or greater or hail an inch or more in diameter.

“Since 1994, so almost 30 years of data, we've had 22 per year. That's what we average. But that ranges. There’s a big range, as few as three in 2011 and up to 64 in 2006," he said.

Brown says his Spokane office issued three severe thunderstorm warnings on Tuesday, bringing the yearly total to 23, with the hottest time of the year still to come. That compares to 38 warnings for all of 2022.

To compare, the Missoula NWS office issued 76 thunderstorm warnings in 2022, the Great Falls, Montana office had 170.

The peak months for thunderstorms are July and August, so Brown says hitting the average this early is notable.

“The weather pattern that we have seen this year has been very unusual and it’s not just affecting Spokane, the Inland Northwest," he said.

Courtesy National Weather Service

He says southwestern cities such as Albuquerque, Oklahoma City and Dallas are also having unusually active seasons for thundershowers, with each having a few hundred warnings so far.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.