Midweek Rain to Help Battle Northwest Wildfires

By Jordan Root, Meteorologist
July 23, 2014; 11:12 AM ET
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With the recent scorching heat wave fading away into the past, more relief will greet the Northwest by midweek in the form of rain.

A disturbance is expected to dive into the Pacific Northwest as Wednesday approaches, bringing an uptick in moisture across the bone-dry regions of the interior northwestern United States and western Canada.

Widespread showers and locally heavy thunderstorms will target several states and provinces currently dealing with large and devastating wildfires.

Local residents will surely welcome any rain that does fall as much of July has been abnormally dry.

As a result, the Northwest has turned into a tinder-box, with several large wildfires developing and threatening lives and property.

The rain will aid firefighters in battling the dangerous blazes which have already consumed hundreds of houses and burned hundreds of thousands of acres.

A crew member aboard the International Space Station captured this image of wildfires burning in Washington on July 19. (Note: south is at the top of the frame). (Photo: NASA)Enlarge

"The cooler and wetter pattern should help crews make significant gains in containing these blazes," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mike Doll.

Most of these fires were started earlier in the week by lightning strikes from dry thunderstorms. With more low-level moisture expected to stream in by the middle of the week, the threat for additional wildfires to ignite will be lower.

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The bulk of the rain will fall on Wednesday into early Thursday before the system departs the region.

While the rain may be welcome by many, hikers across the region could find it to be a nuisance.

Heavy rain can turn trails into streams and slow the pace at which they navigate through the mountains.

Those in the highest elevations of the Cascades may even encounter a few wet snowflakes on Wednesday night as freezing levels plummet towards 5,000 feet.

Hikers should take the proper steps and prepare for these conditions as they can quickly become dangerous for those who are caught off guard or who have little experience in such conditions.

Temperatures will continue to tumble as the system approaches, straying away from the sizzling weather that plagued all of July so far.

Many locations are running 8 to 10 degrees above normal for the month.

Spokane, Washington, recorded a 12-day stretch of temperatures in the 90s. Every day in July so far has featured high temperatures at or above average for the city. That will change though with the arrival of cooler air.

"Temperatures will be 20 to 30 degrees lower by Thursday compared to temperatures during the middle to latter part of last week," said Doll.

The heat that was in place across the Northwest will continue to push east, making its way into the Plains and Upper Midwest. The arrival of the heat could spark severe storms from the Dakotas to the Great Lakes.

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