SPOKANE, Wash-- Those hot, dry and windy days that can create large wildfires are twice as common in parts of the Inland Northwest than 50 years ago. This comes from a study by the Climate Central group released this week.
In the 1970s, these fire weather days around Spokane and Northeast Washington only numbered an average of 7 to 9 days per year. In the last ten years, the average is closer to 20.
Climate Central says Northeast Washington now sees 17 more days each year of fire weather than 50 years ago. It's one of the fastest changing-regions in the country; 35th out of 245 climate divisions.
The Central Columbia Basin including the Tri-Cites now sees 14 more fire weather days. North Idaho climate divisions were not used in this research.
Washington in particular saw a big change in fire activity in the past decade. An average of over 300,000 more acres burned each year in the 2010s than the 2000s.
This trend is unlikely to stop. Climate change is warming summer faster than other seasons in the Inland Northwest. 30-year averages for rain in the summer went down when they were updated in 2021.
May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Get prepared with helpful resources here. You can read the full Climate Central report here.
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Meteorologist Matt Gray brings you the forecast each weekend on 4 News Now, along with stories about how weather and climate impact all of us in the Inland Northwest. Matt began his career just down I-90 in Missoula, Montana shortly after graduating with a B.S. in Meteorology from Florida State University. Matt returned home to Florida in 2017 and immediately ended up covering the state’s first major hurricane landfall in over a decade. Now after covering a few active hurricane seasons, Matt is excited to forecast for the regular four seasons instead here in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. When Matt isn’t talking weather, he’s spending time hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, watching sports, and finding good local food (and local beer) to try.