Eastern Washington

Last updated on 18 October 2017

Eastern Washington is the portion of the US state of Washington east of the Cascade Range. The region contains the city of Spokane (the second largest city in the state), the Tri-Cities, the Columbia River and the Grand Coulee Dam, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the fertile farmlands of the Yakima Valley and the Palouse. Unlike in Western Washington, the climate is dry, including some desert environments.

Eastern Washington map.svg
Map of Eastern Washington

Climate

EasternWA koeppen.png
Köppen climate types in eastern Washington

A significant difference between Eastern Washington and the western half of the state is its climate. While the west half of the state is located in a rainy oceanic climate, the eastern half receives little rainfall due to the rainshadow created by the Cascade Mountains. Also, due to being farther from the sea, the east side has both hotter summers and colder winters than the west. Most communities in Eastern Washington, for example, have significant yearly snowfall, while in the west snowfall is minimal and not seen every year. The east and west do still have some climatic traits in common, though: more rainfall in winter than summer, a lack of severe storms, and milder temperature ranges than more inland locations.

There is some variation in both rainfall throughout Eastern Washington. Generally, lower elevations are both hotter and drier than higher elevations. This is easily seen in the comparison between low-elevation Richland with higher elevation Spokane.

Climate data for Richland, Washington
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
(22)
73
(23)
82
(28)
92
(33)
105
(41)
110
(43)
110
(43)
113
(45)
106
(41)
89
(32)
77
(25)
66
(19)
113
(45)
Average high °F (°C) 40.7
(4.8)
48.6
(9.2)
57.9
(14.4)
66.4
(19.1)
75.3
(24.1)
82.2
(27.9)
90.5
(32.5)
89.3
(31.8)
80.6
(27)
66.7
(19.3)
50.7
(10.4)
41.5
(5.3)
65.87
(18.82)
Average low °F (°C) 26.4
(−3.1)
30.2
(−1)
35.1
(1.7)
40.8
(4.9)
48.1
(8.9)
54.7
(12.6)
59.7
(15.4)
58.7
(14.8)
50.8
(10.4)
41.2
(5.1)
33.7
(0.9)
28.2
(−2.1)
42.3
(5.71)
Record low °F (°C) −21
(−29)
−22
(−30)
11
(−12)
23
(−5)
30
(−1)
38
(3)
41
(5)
39
(4)
31
(−1)
13
(−11)
−6
(−21)
−10
(−23)
−22
(−30)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.99
(25.1)
0.70
(17.8)
0.61
(15.5)
0.49
(12.4)
0.59
(15)
0.54
(13.7)
0.20
(5.1)
0.23
(5.8)
0.28
(7.1)
0.54
(13.7)
0.98
(24.9)
1.05
(26.7)
7.1
(180)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.6
(6.6)
1.5
(3.8)
0.3
(0.8)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
trace 0.6
(1.5)
2.2
(5.6)
7.1
(18)
Source: [1]
Climate data for Spokane, Washington (Felts Field)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
(17)
64
(18)
74
(23)
94
(34)
98
(37)
108
(42)
112
(44)
112
(44)
102
(39)
90
(32)
72
(22)
63
(17)
112
(44)
Average high °F (°C) 37.1
(2.8)
42.5
(5.8)
51.0
(10.6)
59.0
(15)
68.6
(20.3)
75.2
(24)
87.0
(30.6)
85.6
(29.8)
75.6
(24.2)
60.2
(15.7)
44.8
(7.1)
36.6
(2.6)
60.3
(15.7)
Average low °F (°C) 26.2
(−3.2)
27.2
(−2.7)
31.7
(−0.2)
36.2
(2.3)
43.3
(6.3)
50.3
(10.2)
56.2
(13.4)
54.8
(12.7)
46.6
(8.1)
37.9
(3.3)
30.6
(−0.8)
25.6
(−3.6)
38.9
(3.8)
Record low °F (°C) −10
(−23)
−3
(−19)
2
(−17)
24
(−4)
28
(−2)
37
(3)
39
(4)
40
(4)
26
(−3)
12
(−11)
−2
(−19)
−10
(−23)
−10
(−23)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.92
(48.8)
1.14
(29)
1.91
(48.5)
1.23
(31.2)
1.51
(38.4)
1.66
(42.2)
0.40
(10.2)
0.51
(13)
0.61
(15.5)
1.10
(27.9)
1.94
(49.3)
2.31
(58.7)
16.25
(412.8)
Source: [2]
Climate data for Spokane, Washington (Spokane Int'l), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
(17)
63
(17)
74
(23)
90
(32)
97
(36)
105
(41)
108
(42)
108
(42)
98
(37)
87
(31)
70
(21)
60
(16)
108
(42)
Average high °F (°C) 34.5
(1.4)
39.7
(4.3)
49.0
(9.4)
57.3
(14.1)
66.5
(19.2)
73.9
(23.3)
83.4
(28.6)
83.0
(28.3)
73.0
(22.8)
58.1
(14.5)
41.7
(5.4)
32.3
(0.2)
57.7
(14.3)
Average low °F (°C) 23.7
(−4.6)
25.4
(−3.7)
30.6
(−0.8)
35.8
(2.1)
42.8
(6)
49.5
(9.7)
55.3
(12.9)
54.8
(12.7)
46.4
(8)
36.3
(2.4)
28.8
(−1.8)
21.5
(−5.8)
37.6
(3.1)
Record low °F (°C) −30
(−34)
−24
(−31)
−10
(−23)
14
(−10)
24
(−4)
33
(1)
37
(3)
35
(2)
22
(−6)
7
(−14)
−21
(−29)
−25
(−32)
−30
(−34)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.79
(45.5)
1.33
(33.8)
1.61
(40.9)
1.28
(32.5)
1.62
(41.1)
1.25
(31.8)
.64
(16.3)
.59
(15)
.67
(17)
1.18
(30)
2.30
(58.4)
2.29
(58.2)
16.55
(420.5)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 12.0
(30.5)
7.2
(18.3)
3.7
(9.4)
1.0
(2.5)
.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.1
(0.3)
7.2
(18.3)
14.9
(37.8)
46.2
(117.3)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.4 10.4 11.6 10.1 10.2 7.9 5.0 3.8 5.1 7.8 13.7 13.2 112.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.9 5.1 4.1 1.1 .3 0 0 0 0 .2 4.7 9.8 34.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 77.5 118.7 198.4 243.0 297.6 324.0 381.3 341.0 270.0 192.2 75.0 58.9 2,577.6
Source #1: NOAA[3]
Source #2: HKO (sun only 1961−1990)[4]

Geography

Nomenclature

Other terms used for Eastern Washington or large parts of it include:

Cities

SpokaneFromPalisades 20070614.jpg
Spokane is the largest city in eastern Washington and the metropolitan center of the Inland Empire region

The following cities and towns in Eastern Washington have over 10,000 inhabitants.[8]

National Parks and other protected areas

Goat Peak, Cascades.jpg
The summit of Goat Peak in the Okanogan National Forest

Limited protection areas

Counties

Eastern Washington is composed of Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, and Yakima Counties.

Population

Compared to Western Washington, Eastern Washington has roughly twice the land area and one-third the population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the population estimate as of July 2014 was 1,547,303. The population growth rate between the two is roughly the same. Of Washington's ten Congressional districts, Eastern Washington exactly encompasses two (the 4th and 5th), aside from a small portion of the 3rd in Skamania County.

Education

Eastern Washington hosts a number of world-renowned universities including three of the state's five public universities.

Public institutions

Private institutions

Research institutions

Proposed statehood

There have been sporadic movements to create a 51st state out of Eastern Washington by splitting the current state down the Cascades, but proposals have rarely progressed out of the state legislature's committees. Bills in the Washington State Legislature which would have requested the United States Congress to take up the question were proposed in 1996, 1999, 2005, and 2017.[9] Proposed names for the new state have included Lincoln, Columbia, Liberty, or simply Eastern Washington. Many of these proposals were to include the Idaho Panhandle as part of the proposed state of Lincoln.

Eastern Washington tends to vote Republican, whereas Western Washington usually supports the Democrats.

Images

Palouse Hills from Steptoe Butte.jpg

The Palouse Hills of southeastern Washington

Dry Falls.jpg

Dry Falls in the semi-desert Channeled Scablands that dominate much of eastern Washington.

Eastern Washington Truck.jpg

Truck transport going east on Highway 2, near Waterville

Azwell WA.jpg

Apple orchards in Azwell, Washington surrounding a community of pickers' cabins

References

  1. ^ "RICHLAND, WASHINGTON (457015)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". NOAA. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  4. ^ "Climatological Normals of Spokane". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  5. ^ WSP Eastside Recruiter Returns to Face Recruitment Challenge, Washington State Patrol Government and Media Relations, September 8, 2010, archived from the original on November 3, 2010, retrieved December 27, 2010
  6. ^ "Eastside steelheading enters last month". Bellingham Herald. March 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  7. ^ "Eastside Earthquakes Get Attention At Conference In Yakima". Oregon Public Broadcasting. October 17, 2007. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  8. ^ Population figures are the most recent figures contained in the respective Wikipedia articles, or in the List of cities in Washington.
  9. ^ "Lawmakers want to make eastern Wash. its own state". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-01-10.

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