Northwest Heat to Ease Into Next Week

By Brian Lada, Meteorologist
July 20, 2014; 2:40 AM ET
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A cooldown will continue to progress inland across the Northwest into early next week bringing some relief for residents after nearly a week of record-challenging heat and sizzling sunshine. However, the threat from wildfires will continue.

Over the weekend, temperatures will gradually return to near normal levels from Seattle to Medford, Oregon and on to Boise, Idaho, following an extended period of temperatures 5 to 15 degrees above normal.

During early next week week, temperatures are forecast to further trend downward as the core of the heat shifts over the Plains.

For some locations, such as Spokane, Washington, this will be the first time this month that below-normal temperatures are observed.

The stretch of hot conditions and low humidity also brought an elevated risk of wildfires.

Throughout the course of the heat wave, over a dozen wildfires ignited across the region with most of them starting as a result of lightning strikes, according to the Incident Information System.

According to the Associated Press, the spreading Carlton Complex fire forced evacuations of Pateros, Washington, on Thursday. The small town is located along the Columbia River. A hospital in Brewster, Washington, was also evacuated as a precaution the AP said.

Fires of this nature typically begin when lightning from a nearby thunderstorm strikes dry vegetation, sparking the fire. However, rain from these thunderstorms evaporates before reaching the ground due to how dry the atmosphere is near the ground.

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These types of thunderstorms are commonly referred to as dry thunderstorms.

The cooler weather coming in will assist firefighting efforts somewhat.

However, much of the region will remain dry over the next several days as crews continue to battle the blazes.

While temperatures will be lower, that does not mean that the fire danger is over. The continuation of dry weather for much of the region also means the continuation of abnormally dry vegetation.

People across the region should still use caution when dealing with open flames as it does not take much for the dry vegetation to ignite and spread.

Several records were broken across the Northwest during the course of this heat wave.

Pasco, Washington, reached one of the highest temperature values across the entire region, topping out at 109 F on Wednesday afternoon.

Wenatchee, Washington, was another hot spot, hitting 100 F each day from July 8 to July 16, averaging more than 12 degrees above normal during that time.

Highest Temp. July 8 to 16
Avg. High
Seattle, Washington 90 76
Wenatchee, Washington 106* 89
Spokane, Washington 99 84
Boise, Idaho 104 92
Portland, Oregon 91 81
Medford, Oregon 104 91
Reno, Nevada 105* 93

*Denotes Record

Contend contributed by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.


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