Smoke may not be the only impact of these warm fall temperatures

SPOKANE, Wash.– Summer 2022 was one of the hottest in the history of the Inland Northwest, and so far this fall season is trying to top it. No, it’s not going to be 100° or anything like that this October, but the difference between temperatures so far this month and the seasonal average is just as big as any heat wave we’ve had in recent years. High temperatures on Tuesday hit 80° in Spokane. The average high is 65°. Our current forecasts call for 60s and 70s next week while the average high is only in the upper 50s starting next Thursday.

The first five days of October are the hottest in the 141-year record for Spokane on those dates. September was the third-hottest on record. This past August was the hottest on record.

air quality in wenatchee, wa 10-6-22

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Between the warmth and only a couple of days of rain this autumn, wildfires in the Inland Northwest continue to smolder and pump out smoke. Air quality approached hazardous levels in Wenatchee and Leavenworth on Thursday because of several fires burning nearby in the Cascades. The North Cascades basically missed all of the recent rain, keeping the forests in a late-summer state. Air quality will continue to be an issue near local wildfires until we get a storm passing over every few days.

RELATED: How to check air quality where you live

Rain Deficit past 30 days on October 6th, 2022

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Warm beginnings to the fall season seem to carry impacts even as the calendar turns to winter.  There are five Septembers in the Spokane record similar to 2022. Four out of five years saw significantly less snow during the first part of the snow season, October through the end of December. The average snow for these years is five inches below normal.

Late Fall Winter average vs warm septembers

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Interestingly, each of those years saw a rebound in January through early spring to end up with snow totals close to the yearly average. The lack of early snow is notable, however, especially for winter recreation. The last two years of the La Niña climate cycle, usually an indicator of a cold and snowy winter, haven’t really measured up in most of the Northwest. Another La Niña winter is expected for 2022-2023. La Niña is only one of several planet-sized climate factors that shape how winter in our small patch of the world will go.

RELATED: California braces for dry winter as Western drought drags on

Keeping that in mind, you cannot reasonably predict what will happen during winter from what happens during the fall.  A lot can change between now and March and every season is different. However, comparing similar years in the historical record is one way to see realistic expectations for the colder months ahead.