northwest weather

Ironman /

We’re approaching one of the Northwest’s busiest weekends: Hoopfest in Spokane, Seattle Pride, Portland International Beerfest, Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, and Ironman in Coeur d’Alene. With a heat wave also approaching, health and garden experts shared some best practices.

Ironman /

Because of brutally hot temperatures forecast for Ironman race day in Coeur d'Alene, the grueling event will start a half-hour earlier than usual - 5:30 in the morning.

The crash of a helicopter in the Colville National Forest has resulted in an early season forest fire. The chopper was working near Pierre Lake when it went down Thursday afternoon.

Idaho farmers who depend on irrigation fear they're facing shortages, summer shut-offs and possible legal battles because of paltry snowpacks, scant rainfall and dry soil. A new report by the Natural Resources Conservation Service paints a gloomy outlook for agricultural interests, the primary economic drivers in central, southern and southeastern Idaho.

Washington Drought
Department of Ecology

Friday, Washington’s governor declared a drought emergency in about 44 percent of the state, and the Department of Ecology has taken the lead on preparedness.

Predictions Hot For Summer in Northwest

Mar 30, 2015
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

After the winter-that-wasn't, what can Inland Northwest residents expect for the summer? University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass isn't willing to make an unqualified prediction, but says "I believe the probability of a warm summer is quite high."

Warm Winter Is Harbinger of Winters to Come

Feb 19, 2015
Winter weather in Spokane
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

A noted Washington State climatologist believes this snowless, warmish winter is good for at least one thing -  a grim forecast of Inland Northwest winters to come half a century from now. University of Washington climate specialist Cliff Mass said we don't need a time machine to experience what winters will be like on the downslope of the 21st century.

The National Weather Service in Spokane is offering a couple of likely scenarios to last weeks “milky rain” that fell in the region. The cloudy rain was reported in a large area last Friday, from Spokane to the Tri-Cities. Motorists reported rain left their cars and windshields with a splotchy mess. Now the Spokane Weather Service is offering some possible explanations.

Winter? What Winter?

Jan 27, 2015

While winter threatened to wallop the northeastern US with a snowy haymaker Monday, folks in the Inland Northwest were thinking of shorts and t-shirts because of record balmy temperatures. On the usually snow-shrouded slopes of Mount Rainier early Monday morning, thermometers recorded 60 degrees 5,500 feet up at the Paradise Ranger station.

You probably have made the educated guess that this was a dryer than normal winter in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene region. A weather official says that notion would be correct, though it's not the worst season on record.

Scott Pattee is with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which monitors snowpack and other environmental factors.

2014 could be the warmest year on record for both Seattle and Portland.

Atmospheric River Promises Rain, Not Snow

Dec 18, 2014
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

An atmospheric Christmas Grinch is lurking over the Inland Northwest. University of Washington meteorologist Cliff Mass says a strong atmospheric river is developing over Oregon, Washington and Idaho just in time for the weekend - but it'll be in form of rain, not snow.

From a temperature standpoint, autumn is off to an unusually mild start across the Northwest.

Geologists Sing a Happy Lidar Day Song

Oct 20, 2014

Washington State geologists working for the Department of Natural Resources threw themselves a party the other day. The earth scientists were celebrating what they called "Lidar"  day, a somewhat nerdy affair. Lidar is one of those acronyms favored by government agencies - It means light detection and ranging - a combination of laser and radar.

Fall's Start, Separate and Unequal

Sep 23, 2014

Now that the fall equinox has come and gone - officially at 7-29 yesterday evening - daylight in Spokane has now shrunk to less than 12 hours as we plunge toward the winter solstice. Right? Well, not quite...

Although the celestial equinox is supposed to be the moment when daylight and dark hours are equal, in Spokane and environs, it's close, but not exact. Monday's day length was actually 12-hours, 10 minutes and 39 seconds.

Fickle Weather Douses Idaho Farmers' Hopes

Sep 1, 2014

August was a crummy month for central and eastern Idaho wheat and barley farmers - and for beer drinkers. The problem was rain - too much of it at just the wrong time - harvest time. The Twin Falls agricultural region in southeastern Idaho got about two-and-a-half inches of rain in the first week of August, an amount that would be unremarkable in some parts of the country, but which was astonishing in an area which ordinarily gets 10 or 11 inches a year.

Oregon Growers Go Nuts Over Hazelnut Demand

Aug 19, 2014

A few Oregon farmers are downright smug this summer about another weather-inflicted crop disaster on the other side of the world. They're hazelnut growers, mostly in the Willamette Valley, responsible for virtually the entire US crop of the nuts.

The fire burning on the Colville Reservation continues to grow. The Devil's Elbow Fire Complex is now over 19,000 acres. About 700 firefighters battled the blaze over the weekend. 32 people have been evacuated, and about 150 homes are threatened. One abandoned house has been destroyed.

Day After Storm, Update From Spokane

Jul 24, 2014

Of the roughly 70,000 customers who lost power in the Inland Northwest Wednesday, about 20,000 homes and business are still in the dark. Even with all available crews at work, that’s the combined total from Avista Utilities and Inland Power and Light.

Fire crews continue to battle several major fires in Washington state, but are hopeful changes in the weather may come to their aid, at least for a while. Several fires are burning in the state, with the Carlton Complex, the state's largest in history, now at 250,000 acres.

But cooler temperatures overnight and increased humidity have helped firefighters achieve 16 percent containment there. Janet Pierce, the communications manager for the Department of Natural Resources, says a prediction for rain in the region today is also good news.

US Lawmakers Examine Earthquake Warning System

Jun 2, 2014

A U.S. House committee run by retiring Washington Congressman Doc Hastings wants to know if there's a reliable way to warn of impending earthquakes. A Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing next week is titled - "Whole Lotta Shaking: An Examination of America's Earthquake Early Warning System Development and Implementation."

A sobering warning from noted glaciologists at the University of Washington. The enormous ice sheet covering much of the Antarctic is beginning to collapse, a process which will release enough water to raise the world's ocean levels by several feet.


Jokes about inaccurate weather forecasts are some of the oldest around. But a University of Washington atmospheric science professor says bad weather predictions are no joke.

BPA Water Planners Aren't Celebrating Just Yet

Apr 10, 2014


The people who run the sprawling Columbia River water system are giving the current water supply outlook a thumbs up. But they also have their fingers crossed. Bonneville Power Administration hydrologists are still somewhat off balance after a roller coaster winter - from a so-so December to an alarming drought in early February to deluges of rain and snow last month.

Given the amount of rain and snow in eastern Washington and the Idaho panhandle this month. it may hard to think of a drought disaster area in the rich farm region of southern Idaho.

In Riverside State Park, you can’t help but notice that there seems to be lots of what appear to be dying Ponderosa pines this year, trees that look like all the needles are turning red. Forester Guy Gifford of the Department of Natural Resources says he has seen this happen before, in 5 to 7 year intervals. The trees are being hit by fungal or insect related pathogens that are related to weather patterns.