The calendar’s most fickle month – October

By Nic Loyd, WSU meteorologist, and Linda Weiford, WSU News

weathercatch(2) (2)SPOKANE, Wash. – Remember the first two days of October? Brilliantly sunny and warm with fiery-colored leaves on trees. Suddenly a switch got flipped, bringing episodes of rain and a chilly wind that sent leaves skittering to the ground like an angry spirit.

Autumn at WSU Pullman.

Welcome to October, the middle month of meteorological autumn.

Where September is generally steady-eddy mild, October is more of a show-offy seesaw. In fact, it’s typically loaded with more weather changes than any other month of the year, offering occasional whispers of warmth, bursts of precipitation, cool nights and frosty mornings.

It’s not unusual for the month to start out comfortably warm – just as it did this time around – and turn considerably cooler. In the Spokane area, the average high falls from 66 degrees in early October to 50 by Halloween. The average low dips from 42 degrees to 34.

In a matter of a week or two, we go from wearing T-shirts and opening windows to donning sweaters and turning on space heaters.

With the atmosphere transitioning from summer to winter and changes coming on so quickly, it can be a challenging month to make weather forecasts. Nonetheless, here’s how things are shaping up for the rest of the month: Temperatures should run warmer than usual, especially at night; but there’s also a good chance we’ll get more rain than normal.

Stormy conditions blowing in this week will bring periodic blasts of wind and rain as well.

Though the rate of cooling slows down in November, meteorological autumn’s last month tends to be more stormy and cooler than October.

In other words, that’s when a space heater no longer suffices and it’s time to turn on the furnace.


Weathercatch is a bimonthly column that appears in The Spokesman Review. Nic Loyd is a meteorologist with Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet. Linda Weiford is a WSU news writer and weather geek. Contact: