Our Geography

Our Location

Washington State has two distinct components: the coastal area between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean--often referred to as "the rainyside" and containing Seattle, Redmond, and the rest of the "I-5 Corridor"--and the so-called "Inland Empire," the dry area east of and in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains. The core urban area of the Inland Empire is the City of Spokane, the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis; the City of Ritzville lies 60 miles southwest of Spokane, in Adams County, of which it is the County seat. We, in turn, are about four miles south of Ritzville.

Washington State 3D Map with County Overlays

This 3-D map of Washington State shows Owlcroft as the white dot at very roughly 119 degrees longitude and 47 degrees latitude.

Washington State 3D Map with County Overlays

Here, for comparison, is a road map of the State. The City of Ritzville is right at the intersection of Interstate 90 and US 395, where I-90 turns from southwest to due west.

Ritzville, while a rural town, is not inaccessible: it lies at the juncture of the two most important Interstate roads in the region, Interstate 90 and US 395, so auto travel is remarkably convenient--drive times are one hour to Spokane (and to Spokane International Airport, a major airport), an hour and a half to the Tri-Cities, and four hours to Seattle. The City even has its own general-aviation airport (with recent major reconstruction), not that that matters to us personally.

Our Weather

Owlcroft lies toward the north end of what is called the Inter-Mountain Plateau region, the land between the Cascade Mountain range and the Rockies. More particularly--as the 3-D map above shows--it is in the heart of a great plain, the Columbia River Basin.

Overall, the weather is refreshingly four-seasonal with extremes in any season being unusual. The average coldest overnight low is 17 degrees and the average hottest midday high is 91 degrees; rainfall is light, averaging about ten inches a year, and the humidity is correspondingly low. The highest average snow depth in winter is 2½ inches. The average annual heating degree-days figure (base 65) is 6546; the cooling degree-day figure (base 70) is 187.

If you have the patience for a long download, here is full, detailed Ritzville climate data. (Even more such data can be found at the Western Regional Climate Center.)

The inland, east-of-the-Cascades region is dramatically different from the coastal region in many important ways. For example, this region is very stable geologically: earthquakes are virtually unheard of here, and strong earthquakes are literally unheard of, for ages back. Other unpleasant climatic phenomena are also strangers to the region: tornadoes are quite rare (three in Adams County in 120 years, all very mild), while hail storms are unknown here. And the region is even environmentally clean (we used to have a link to an EPA page that demonstrated that, but apparently Big Brother now thinks that Ritzville's cleanliness data is terrorist fodder, and so has taken down that page, and that whole site).

Ritzville averages about 2700 hours of sunshine a year. (A well-designed solar house can get well over 90% of its annual heating energy from the sun.)

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Interested in house design? We have a house-design bookshop you can look into.
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