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Snow may not show up until December

Sat., Nov. 22, 2008

Like most people, our family has been pondering the question, “When is it going to snow?” It’s a bit difficult to dream of a Thanksgiving holiday on the slopes, when few flakes have been seen across the lower elevations, and we are heading into the last week of November.

It may surprise you to know, however, that last season’s record snows also got a relatively late start. According to records from Spokane, the airport did not see its first inch of snow until Nov. 26. Once it started though, it did not let up until … June. Going back four years, here are the dates for the first inch or more snowfall at the Spokane airport:

2006 Nov. 13, 2 inches

2005 Nov. 13, 1.1 inches

2004 Nov. 30, 1.4 inches

2003 Nov. 2, 1.5 inches

November 2003 was definitely a wintry month. Records indicate that snow not only arrived early in the month, but it came down heavy toward the end of the month accompanied by some frigid temperatures. Spokane picked up more than 8 inches of snow on Nov. 20 of 2003 with similar heavy amounts falling across North Idaho. By Nov. 22 of that year, Coeur d’Alene saw a record low of 4 degrees, and Spokane fell to 5 below zero!

Looking at the latest long-range computer model, which goes out to Nov. 29, chances for an inch of snow or more in valley locations are pretty slim. The previous week delivered afternoon temperatures well above average for this time of year (39 degrees), and the next 7 to 10 days are looking pretty dry and even somewhat mild as well.

We may have to wait until December to get some Christmas spirit in the form of snow. For those like me, who didn’t take advantage of some of the past week’s mild, dry days to put out Christmas lights, there should be more opportunities.

Looking further into the winter season, additional studies have been released recently regarding the effects of ENSO Neutral conditions (No La Niña or El Niño) on weather across the Inland Northwest. The latest information seems to point to “average” conditions with regards to temperatures and precipitation through the next several months.

Michelle Boss can be reached at


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