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We’ve been spared usual winter so far, but elsewhere not so lucky

THURSDAY, JAN. 28, 2010

Thanks, at least in part, to the warmer-than- normal sea-surface temperature event, El Niño, the Inland Northwest has felt more like March than the middle of January.

The average monthly temperature at Spokane International Airport through Jan. 25 is 35.2 degrees. As of early this week, the mean temperature reading is 43.5 degrees, or 8.3 degrees above normal. As far as precipitation goes, the airport has received 1.53 inches, which is close to normal.

I’ve heard many comments from people saying that they are enjoying the milder weather, especially after what we had to endure over the previous two snowy winter seasons.

While we are seeing much less snowfall, many parts of the U.S. have seen more than their share of record cold, snowfall and rain this harsh winter.

It was minus 38 degrees at Dunn Center in North Dakota earlier this month with a bitter minus 52 degrees wind-chill factor. That frigid temperature was extremely dangerous to both humans and livestock.

The most impressive air temperature on the entire North American continent was minus 48 degrees at Deadhorse, Alaska, on Jan 9. The wind chill was minus 61 degrees!

The record cold was felt all the way to the Deep South. Rare snows also fell in the first 10 days of January during the most prolonged Arctic cold wave in recorded history. As temperatures dropped into the 20s in northern and central Florida, citrus, vegetable and fruit crops were severely damaged. Miami dipped to a record low of 36 degrees on Jan. 10. Key West hit 42 degrees, the coldest morning there in more than a decade.

Las Vegas received a record 1.69 inches of rain late last week from a monster storm system. The annual precipitation in Las Vegas in 2009 was a record low 1.59 inches, less than in most stations in the Sahara Desert in North Africa, where heavy rains also fell last week in some north-central regions.

An all-time record single-storm snowfall total near Flagstaff, Ariz., at Sunrise Mountain exceeded 53 inches, literally burying some of the suburban locations.

In the South, several inches of snow and ice created slippery roadways in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Hundreds of accidents occurred in the Atlanta area.

With the frigid weather pounding much of the Northern Hemisphere, except our region, the ice and snowpacks on Jan. 10 were described as “the most widespread in recorded history.” Ice and snow covered more than 60 percent of the total land area north of 40 degrees latitude.

I still believe that we will see much of our winter snowfall in February through the middle of March. However, final totals are expected to be below normal levels. The upcoming spring may arrive early and is likely to be wetter and cooler than average. The summer, however, is expected to be hot.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather. com.

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