January 22, 2009 in Washington Voices

Expect less snow in second half of season

 

We’ve already seen extreme weather across the Inland Northwest from late 2008 into early 2009.

Much of November through early December was practically snowless as only 1 1/2 inches of snow fell at Spokane International Airport. Then, from Dec. 12 through Jan. 11, the airport received an all-time record 78.8 inches of snow, far above the normal of 47.4 for an entire season.

Since last week, we’ve moved to the other extreme as a strong ridge of high pressure built in over our region blocking all storms from entering the Northwest. With little or no movement of air, the lower elevations of the Inland Northwest has endured an extended period of fog and low clouds with some breaks of sun.

It’s not uncommon for us to see one to two straight weeks of fog and cold weather at this time of year. Skiers and snowboarders are getting eager for a fresh powder of snow in the higher mountains, where there has been plenty of sun above the layer of fog.

I am fairly confident the second half of this harsh winter season will have much less snow than the first part. The strong ridge of high pressure is expected to break down and that will allow more storm systems to move into our region. However, not all of the moisture should come down as snow. There will be occasions when we’ll see rain, especially in the lower elevations over the coming weeks.

Our snowfall season began July 1 and will end June 30. As of Tuesday morning, the airport has received 80.3 inches of snow. The record is 93.5 inches set back in 1949-’50. Last year, we had 92.6 inches. It’s possible that we could challenge or actually exceed that record amount before the season is done.

Many of my longterm forecasts are based on lunar cycles. Have you ever noticed that much of our coldest weather in the winter and our hottest temperatures in the summer occur near a full moon?

Our major change that led to the record snows and frigid temperatures began during that full cycle of mid-December. During last week’s full-moon cycle, areas east of the Rockies observed record cold and snow while the Inland Northwest went to the dry side. More on this next week.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com.

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