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Winter on way to Inland Northwest

Last Sunday afternoon, a wintry coat of white replaced New England’s normal late October orange and gold.

A freak October nor’easter knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses across the Northeast from Maryland and New Jersey and north into Maine.

More than 2 feet of snow buried western Massachusetts, where Plainfield gauged a record 27 inches. Nearby Windsor measured 26 inches. Savoy received 25 inches. By the way, Plainfield’s rare October snow last Sunday was the more than all of the October snowfalls added up over the last 135 years.

Milford, N.J., reported 19 inches of wet snow. Central Park in New York City, had an October record snowfall of 1.3 inches. The 600,000 outages in New Jersey shattered the record of 550,000 outages just a couple of months ago during Hurricane Irene. Even Gov. Chris Christie’s house lost power.

There isn’t usually enough cold air during October to produce a nor’easter, the first such occurrence as far south as New Jersey and New York City in recorded history dating back some four centuries.

While most homes and businesses saw the rare October snows as an aggravation, ski resorts in Vermont and Maine opened for business weeks ahead of schedule. Air and train travel was halted. Many roads were closed by the blizzard conditions.

In the Inland Northwest, it’s possible that we’ll see some snow or a rain and snow mix through this weekend. By next week, milder air is expected to briefly move into the region. There is a better chance of measurable snow from Nov. 10-18, so get those snow tires put on as soon as you can.

Most ski resorts will likely open in December, but it’s possible that few resorts in extreme North Idaho and Montana could open their mountains for skiing as early as the Thanksgiving weekend.

Based on the current information, Spokane International Airport should end up with 49 to 53 inches of snow for the 2011-’12 season. The normal is about 46 inches. I predict from 52 to 56 inches of snow in the Spokane Valley with from 55 to 59 inches along Spokane’s South Hill and Spokane’s North Side. The areas south of Spokane should see 46 to 50 inches of snow. Coeur d’Alene’s snowfall total is projected to be 77 to 81 inches.

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at randy@longrange

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