How common is three summer storms in 20 days?



Posted on August 14, 2014 at 5:49 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 14 at 5:49 AM

SPOKANE, Wash.-- The Inland Northwest received the wrath of three big summer storms within 20 days of each other; the most recent hitting the region on Tuesday evening. KREM 2 On Your Side investigated the seemingly unusual weather pattern to find out what caused it and whether it is really that unusual.

The first storm on July 23 had the biggest impact on north Spokane County and knocked out power to more than 40,000 people.  Less than two weeks later, the Aug. 2 storm knocked out more power and created some of the worst damage since the ’96 Ice Storm.  Then storms moved across the region Tuesday creating less damage, but characterized by unusual wind gusts and dust.

READ: Highlights from Tuesday's thunderstorms

Leaders with the National Weather Service said the severe weather has been nothing but “average”, though Tuesday’s Haboob seemed like something out a Hollywood movie to spectators.

“It was crazy, like freaky almost,” said Lance Wagner of Odessa. “You couldn’t even see the trees in front of the house when we were inside.”

CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Haboob sweeps over Harrington

According to the National Weather Service, storms have drummed up several Haboobs during the last several decades. The most recent hit in September of 2013, but was much smaller than the one that created a buzz over the internet in August.

PHOTOS:  Storm drums up rare Haboob in Ritzville

The National Weather Service also reported two Haboobs in 2009 and 2010 near Moses Lake, as well as a much bigger one in June 2005 that rolled over Lake Coeur d’Alene according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service.

“This weather pattern we’ve been in happens every two to three years, where we can get these widespread events,” said meteorologist Jeff Cote.

Cote said the pattern of high pressure and warm air can create thunderstorms and every once in a while, a Haboob.

“Sometimes you get overflow barriers, winds that rush ahead of the thunderstorms, and especially in the summer when it’s hot and dry,” Cote explained. “Dirt and stuff can really kick-up.”

Meteorologists expected hot, dry conditions would continue for a few more days, leaving a lingering threat of thunderstorms.