August 15, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Look out, La Niña is back

Michelle Boss

We may be seeing the hottest temperatures of the season over the next couple of days, but maybe it’s already time to start thinking about tuning up your snowblower. It’s official. As of last month, La Niña is back. Cooler than normal waters have developed across the equatorial Pacific, and most computer models are predicting a moderate to strong La Niña, which would be in place through the winter of 2010-’11 and may lead to snowier than normal conditions across the Inland Northwest.

The return of La Niña also has influenced the latest Atlantic hurricane season forecast, which continues to call for an active season with an above normal number of named storms and hurricanes. As of Aug. 12, there have been three named storms, Alex, Bonnie and Colin. Only Alex became a hurricane. The names of the next three storms would be Danielle, Earl, and Fiona, with pre-selected names continuing in alphabetical order going all the way to Walter. Hurricane names have also already been selected for seasons 2011-’15.

A particularly noteworthy hurricane may have its name “retired,” otherwise the names are recycled every six years. So far, 55 hurricane names have been retired, including Andrew, Camille, Katrina, and even Michelle. Apparently, that last one was a particularly nasty category 4 storm back in November 2001.

Tropical storms and hurricanes didn’t always get names. For hundreds of years, hurricanes in the West Indies were named after the particular saint’s day on which the hurricane occurred. It wasn’t until 1953 that the National Weather Service began using female names to label storms. Men’s names were added in 1979. For Atlantic hurricanes, English, Spanish and French names are chosen by the World Meteorological Organization.

Back to local weather, we are likely seeing our last really hot spell for this summer season. Triple-digit temperatures eluded us this year, as 95 has been the highest temperature recorded so far at the Spokane airport. We may be pushing the mid-90s again by the middle of this week, just before the hot summer ridge finally breaks down and brings back more seasonable readings in the 80s.

Michelle Boss can be reached at

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