Weather and Climate
Spokane County enjoys four distinct seasons, though the county’s location between the Rocky and Cascade mountain ranges keeps it protected from damp coastal weather and continental-type winters.
Thanks to its inland location, Spokane is on the “sunny side” of the state, with approximately 174 sunny days annually and low summertime humidity. The average high temperature in July is 83 degrees, and the average low is 54 degrees. Because it’s in the “rain shadow” of the Cascades, Spokane receives much less rain than coastal cities like Seattle. Annual precipitation is about 17 inches.
Winter days are cloudy or foggy. The average high temperature in January is 33 degrees, and the average low is 22 degrees. The average annual snowfall is 46 inches per year, though Mount Spokane may receive much more, which is great for the skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes.
Every second counts in a disaster, so planning and preparation can be lifesavers.
ALERT Spokane, an emergency community warning system, sends emergency messages via telephone, cellphone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), texting and email to residents and businesses in Spokane County. Emergency response personnel use the system when homes and businesses at risk during an emergency and when police need help to solve crimes or to find missing persons. The system also relays information about hazardous situations, such as fires, hazardous material releases or police response activities, and protective measures to take during a disaster. For more information about disaster preparedness, visit www.alertspokane.org.
Another great resource for natural disaster and severe weather information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/disasters. Here you can find information on how to prepare for various weather emergencies.
The following are considered significant hazards in Washington.
Washington gets a shaking from more than 1,000 earthquakes each year. While most are in western Washington, some damaging ones do occur east of the Cascades, so it is important to be prepared. Identify potential hazards in your home: Secure top-heavy furniture to a wall, use earthquake putty on hanging pictures and mirrors, and secure objects on shelves that could become flying projectiles.
In an earthquake, remember: Drop, cover and hold on. If you’re not close enough to a table or desk to get under it, drop to the floor against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors and anything else that could fall.
For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit Spokane County’s emergency management information website at www.spokanecounty.org/724/Disaster-Information.
Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Even beyond coastal regions, flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms affect every part of the country, damaging homes and businesses. Underestimating the force and power of water is dangerous.
During a flood watch or warning, gather your emergency supplies and stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for further weather information. If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any flood waters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in floods occur when people drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact. Water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
For more information on flooding in Spokane County, visit www.spokanecounty.org/724/Disaster-Information.
Spokane County is susceptible to wildfires, in part due to the local vegetation. The Washington Department of Natural Resources fights about 900 wildfires across the state annually, approximately 70 percent of them in eastern Washington. Humans cause the majority of wildfires. Causes include arson, recreational fires that get out of control, negligently discarded cigarettes and debris burning. Natural causes like lightning can also cause a fire.
If your home is in an area prone to wildfires, you can mitigate your risk. Have an evacuation plan and maintain a defensible area that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, newspapers and other brush.
Even if your home is not in the vicinity of a wildfire, the smoke and ash produced by fires can create air quality issues for hundreds of miles. Pay attention to local air quality reports following a wildfire in your area.
Wildfires are unpredictable and impossible to forecast, so preparation is of particular importance. For more information, go to www.spokanecounty.org/724/Disaster-Information.
Prepare for winter storms by assembling a disaster supply kit for your home and vehicle. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season arrives. Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
When winter storms and blizzards hit, dangers include strong winds, blinding snow and frigid wind chills. Avoid unnecessary travel during storm watches and warnings and stay indoors.
Winter storms can also cause power outages. During a power outage, gather in a central room with an alternative heat source. Use fireplaces, wood stoves and other heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside. Never use an electric generator or gas or charcoal grill indoors. The fumes are deadly. If you use a space heater, keep the heater away from any object that may catch fire (drapes, furniture or bedding) and never leave it unattended. Avoid letting pipes freeze and rupture by leaving faucets slightly open, so they drip continuously.
For more information on winter preparedness and winterizing your home and vehicles, visit www.spokanecounty.org/724/Disaster-Information.