Dust in the wind

Strong winds produce hazy skies in Cd'A

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SHAWN GUST/Press The distance mountains are hazy from area wildfire smoke blown in by windy conditions.

Call it a mini Dust Bowl.

The hazy sky that blanketed Kootenai County on a windy Monday was mostly dust mixed with patchy smoke from regional wildfires, said Cliff Harris, climatologist.

"You could almost taste the dust," Harris said.

Harris said wind gusts that reached as high as 34 mph Monday afternoon blew in dust from eastern Washington. With it came a touch of smoke from Idaho and Washington fires.

He said he expects today will be fairly calm with wind only reaching 5 to 10 mph.

The dust in the air only added to the area's dry spell.

Harris said the area has only had 0.23 of an inch of rain since July 20, making it one of the driest summers on record.

"And we don't have any rain in sight," Harris said.

Today will feel like fall with a high of 65.

"People are complaining that their pine needles are coming down too early," he said.

But 80-degree weather is expected to return as soon as Thursday and into the weekend, Harris said.

Harris said he'll give his winter outlook in the Sept. 24 edition of The Press, but offered a sneak peek.

"We'll either have way above-average snowfall or way below, nothing in the middle of the road," he said. "It all depends on what happens with this high pressure ridge because it acts as a blocking agent."

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