Seattle isn’t the only city to shatter October’s rainfall record in Washington state. By the close of Halloween, Mother Nature had thrown a trick at Spokane, Pullman, Colville, and even Yakima — a city so sunny that its nickname is the “Palm Springs of Washington.”
That’s the first surprise. Here’s the second: As the recipient of 6.23 inches of rain, not only did Spokane break its record for October, but also any month ever recorded.
“Weather data collection for Spokane’s airport began in 1881, which means that this October was the city’s wettest month in at least 135 years,” says meteorologist Nic Loyd of Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet, a network of 177 weather stations.
The Spokane area got more rain this October than the combined amount of rain that fell in 2016 from February through September, he says.
In the south-central part of the state, nearly 2½ inches fell in Yakima this month, breaking its October record of 2.22 inches set in 1950. The normally sunny city received more than four times the normal amount of rain it gets during October, Loyd says.
In eastern Washington, weather gauges in Pullman measured 5.69 inches of rain for the month, topping its 1950 record of 4.29 inches.
Boundary Dam, located in the state’s far northeast corner, crushed its 1968 October rainfall record of 3.97 inches with a new record of 8.35 inches. Some 60 miles away, October’s rain total for Colville surpassed its 1947 record of 4.81 inches with a new one set at 5.82 inches.
“The amount of rain that fell this month is significant, but so too, is the fact that it’s only October. The wettest months in the Pacific Northwest tend to be during winter,” he explains.
When it comes to floods and landslides, the timing of the consistently low-to-moderate rainfall was actually a good thing. Had the 31-day drench occurred in winter or spring, “flooding would have been more likely,” Loyd says. “Fortunately, our wet October followed a typically dry summer, so the soil and river moisture levels were low.”