March 28, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Winter ready to go down in the record books

Michelle Boss
 

It has now been over a month since the last measurable snow in both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. There is still a good chance that this year will go down in the records books as the least snowiest for both locations. In case you needed a reminder, the snowfall total for Spokane stands at 13.7 inches, with 17.8 inches for Coeur d’Alene. For comparison, snowfall in both Kansas City and Tulsa, has put them on the top five list of snowiest winters. In the Northeast, Philadelphia and Baltimore have seen their snowiest winters ever, even beating out snowfall totals in Anchorage as of early this month. Though snow is probably the furthest thing from our minds here in the Inland Northwest, there is an interesting site to check out snow statistics across the entire U.S. on any given day. Visit NOAA’s National Snow Analysis site: www.nohrsc.nws.gov/nsa/.

From this site I was able to see that on the first day of spring, 27.2 percent of the U.S. was covered in snow, compared to 52.2 percent a month before. Interesting statistics for weather nerds such as myself!

As I mentioned in previous columns, the lack of snow – and overall precipitation this year will have a negative impact on water supply during the upcoming summer. According to the U.S. drought monitor, moderate to severe drought conditions are developing across portions of Washington and North Idaho. In contrast, much of the Midwest and Southeast will see a much higher than average spring flood risk due to above average snows/rains and saturated ground.

As far as temperatures are concerned locally, March has been running about two degrees above normal. Average highs and lows have warmed up to the lower 50s and lower 30s, respectively, though we still have about six weeks until we’ve reached the average date of the last frost in the area. While there is still a chance to see snow in the area, warmer weather will increase our chances for a few springtime thunderstorms. These usually contain graupel, also called snow pellets or soft hail. The more severe springtime thunderstorms will occur across the Midwest and the South. While El Nino’s influence on spring time weather is less distinct than its influence on winter, there does seem to be a correlation to the location of higher tornado activity. During El Niño periods, tornado activity is more concentrated in the Southern Plains and the Gulf States, with a shift to the lower Midwest, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, and Mid-Atlantic states during La Nina.

Michelle Boss can be reached at weatherboss@comcast.net.


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