Weathercatch: A mighty wind: How last week's windstorm gained its strength

First we got soaked; then we got wind-whipped. The heavy rain was expected. The deadly winds, not so much.

The windstorm that pounded the Spokane area and North Idaho on Jan. 13 was partly due to the tail end of an atmospheric river that made landfall on the Washington coast less than 36 hours earlier. Because strong prevailing winds carry these giant rivers in the sky from the tropical Pacific Ocean, winds were anticipated when this recent atmospheric river came onshore. But why did they reach such brutal force here in the Inland Northwest – some 400 miles away?

Waning winds from the atmospheric river were fueled by a

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