National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Moderating Temperatures for the East; Developing Storm for the Plains

Temperatures will continue to moderate across the east half of the nation through at least the first half of this week. A developing storm across the Southern Plains may bring some heavy rain from the Plains to the lower Great Lakes region, a wintry mixture and accumulating snow across the Midwest and Upper Mississippi Valley into mid-week. The west remains unsettled with occasional rain and snow. Read More >

                    Interested In Applying for a Job with NWS Spokane?


                          NWS Spokane Weather Forecast Office (WFO)                                                                NWS Spokane's Upper Air Building


If you're not familiar with Spokane and the surrounding area, let us share what makes it so special.


Spokane (pronounced Spo-can) is located in far eastern Washington, just 20 miles west of the Idaho border.  With over 200,000 people in Spokane and about half a million in the metro area, Spokane is large enough to have diverse cultural and entertainment opportunities but still small enough that traffic is rarely a problem.   The Forecast Office is out in a rural area away from downtown but most employees have a 25 minute or less commute.  Housing and cost of living in general is very affordable.  


Spokane and the surrounding area offers seemingly endless entertainment opportunities.  The already beautiful and very popular downtown Riverfront Park is going through a major improvement project.  The park's highlight is the cascading Spokane River flowing past attractions like the new ice skating pond and ice ribbon, giant Radio Flyer wagon, rotary fountain, and the 100+ year old carousel.  It is also hosts large outdoor events throughout the year including: the Lilac Bloomsday Run with over 40,000 runners; Hoopfest, the largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament in the world; and Pig Out in the Park which brings together a variety of food and music.


                          Downtown's Spokane Falls During Spring Runoff                                                 Monroe Street Bridge and the Spokane Falls, Downtown Spokane

Spokane is the home of a Minor League Baseball team, the Spokane Indians, as well as the Spokane Chiefs that play in the Western Hockey League.  The Spokane Chiefs home is the Spokane Arena which also attracts major concerts and is scheduled to host the NCAA basketball men's and women's tournament over the next couple of years. 


                                                                                    A photo from an NWS Staff outing to a Spokane Indians game

Speaking of sports, Spokane is surrounded by several excellent universities within 75 miles.  Gonzaga University is located near downtown Spokane.  On the north side of town is Whitworth University and just south of Spokane in Cheney is Eastern Washington University.  A short drive down the Palouse Scenic Byway takes you to Washington State University in Pullman and just across the Idaho border is Moscow, ID, home of the University of Idaho.  

NWS Spokane's area of responsibility is probably not what most people think of when they hear "Washington".  The Inland Northwest is a beautiful landscape offering something for everyone. Spokane current Met-Intern, photographer, and outdoorsman says it best: "From hiking and biking on Mt. Spokane in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there are so many places to explore in eastern Washington. One of the best things to me, though, is that Spokane is a central location between so many destinations. There are beautiful places to see in every direction. Within a 6 hour drive of Spokane you have the Cascades and Mt Rainier National Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, the Oregon Coast, and the Canadian Rockies, just to name a few."  


      Skiing, Snowboarding, and Showshoeing on Mt. Spokane in the Winter                                                              Hiking and biking in the Summer

Thankfully the weather compliments the myriad of outdoor opportunities.  Spokane averages about half as much rain as Seattle thanks to the Cascade Mountains.  The lowest elevation of the region is along the Columbia River that is both the driest and has the warmest temperatures.  As you travel east across the Columbia Basin and into eastern Washington, moisture and vegetation increases until you reach the mountains of north Idaho.  This area experiences 4 distinct seasons and the highlight is the long, dry, warm, and cloud-free summer days


                                                    Fall 2017                                                                                                                           Winter 2016   

The variety of weather is great for outdoor recreation, but it also is the source of our biggest forecast challenges.  The Inland Northwest is notorious for very challenging snow forecasts where a few hundred feet elevation change can make all the difference.   While the region is not immune to severe weather, our focus during the warm months is typically fire weather.   The spring runoff from the mountain snow pack has its own challenges with a complex network of dams, rivers, and lakes.

Given those challenges, the Forecast Office answers the call by building relationships with a wide array of local, state, and regional partners.  We provide weekly briefings year round and daily briefings to our partners in land management during the peak of fire season.  The staff looks for opportunities to get out of the office by presenting seasonal outlooks, staffing booths at fairs, participating in exercises, or speaking at local schools.  We are not just outreach oriented as we also perform case studies and run a local WRF; always looking for ways to be more efficient and effective in how we communicate weather hazards and impacts.  


                Thunderstorm over Downtown                                                Aurora Borealis at NWS Spokane                                 Shelf cloud in southern Spokane County

Lastly, working at the NWS Spokane Forecast Office means you'll be joining a family!  There is little turnover here because once people arrive, they realize what a great place Spokane is and settle in with their families.  After our latest Met-Intern left to a different office, he shared this: "I can now say this without being biased, but I would say the number one thing about Spokane is the staff is second to none. You don't have coworkers there but rather a family and have a ton of fun both inside and outside of work. Not that I don't enjoy my current coworkers here, but I truly miss the staff at Spokane."

‚ÄčThis office and the region have so much to offer.  I hope you'll consider applying for a position‚Äč to join the team at NWS Spokane!