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Boise Usually Sends Snow Job Toward North

Here it is, proof that Boise’s climate is drier than dry.

The city got its second-biggest snowstorm ever this past week - more than 9 inches of snow!

That’s right. More than 9 inches. Less than 10.

Since records have been kept, the only bigger single-day snowfall in Boise was 13 inches in 1949.

Last week’s storm smashed the previous record for second-largest: An 8-1/2-inch dump back in 1950.

“Typically, Boise does not see that type of weather but every 40 or 50 years,” said Tom Egger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

He adds with understatement, “We don’t see much precipitation here.

“The nearby mountains do, though.”

Apparently. Boise’s problem is that it’s in a big, wide valley, and the nearby mountains are all in the wrong places. Instead of prompting storms to spill their snow and rain as they move across Boise, the mountains put the city in a shadow that keeps it dry.

Egger says the bizarre phenomena that Boiseans witness so often on their TV news weather segments are real: Storms really do veer around Boise, or split in half, bypass the capital city, then rejoin after they’re clear.

“It’s really the mountains and the valley that we’re in that causes that seemingly inexplicable reason why we don’t get any, but everyone else does. We’re in the bottom of a valley.”

“You need something to squeeze those clouds to get the moisture out of them. That’s what mountains do. The valley allows the clouds to expand instead of contract, and when they expand they spread their moisture out. You don’t get precipitation.”

Egger said even the old Idaho saying about a southern Idaho rainstorm is exceptionally accurate, especially for summer rainstorms.

The saying? “A few drops, a lot of wind, and it’s over.”

Dad finally gets her vote

The Silver Valley’s new state legislator, Rep. Larry Watson, D-Wallace, had some tough going during his campaign. But it wasn’t with his opponent.

As Watson looked over his new responsibilities in Boise during the Legislature’s recent organizational session, he recalled trying to explain to daughter Jessica, 7, that he would be gone to Boise for three months if he won, returning home just for weekends.

“She said, ‘I’m sorry, Dad, but I’m not voting for you and neither are any of my friends,”’ he recalled with a chuckle.

The youngster warmed up to the idea during the campaign, as rumors about her dad’s efforts swept through the second grade. At one point, Watson said, he heard that he was running against President Clinton. Another time, the word was that he was running for governor, and if he won he’d have to move to Arizona.

Soon Jessica was handing out her dad’s campaign pencils.

“She’s excited, she’s feeling better about it now,” Watson said. “I think if I do this for a while, I’m going to make her my campaign manager.”

, DataTimes MEMO: North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336- 2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to

North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336- 2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to