When it comes to Inland Northwest snowfall, it seems like it’s either feast or famine.
From late November through mid-January, only 9 inches of snow was measured at Spokane International Airport. December, with 2.4 inches, had less snow than November.
But, a change occurred last week as nearly 10 inches of snow fell in the Spokane area. On Jan. 18, 3.7 inches fell, followed by an impressive 6 inches on Jan. 19.
As of early Tuesday, Spokane’s seasonal snowfall total for the 2011-’12 season stands at 19.3 inches – well below average. The normal seasonal snowfall to date is slightly less than 32 inches.
In Coeur d’Alene, snow fell for four days last week with accumulations of about two feet. That brought the season’s total to more than 41 inches as of early Tuesday.
In terms of temperature, we’ve had a number of chilly days this month. On Jan. 18 and 19, the highs were 22 and 21. However, on Jan. 4, the high was a balmy 53. So far, the average temperature for January is 28.7 degrees, which is 0.3 degrees below normal.
I still believe that we will finish this current winter season with snowfall totals of 35 to 40 inches in Spokane and 60 to 65 inches in Coeur d’Alene.
We still have a La Niña, the cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event, in the south-central Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon has been weakening over the last three to four weeks, but is still strong enough to influence global weather patterns. During past La Niña events, our region typically receives above normal amounts of snow. This was certainly the case during the winters of 2007-’08, 2008-’09 and 2010-’11. However, solar activity (sunspots on the sun) has been increasing, which will occasionally hold down the higher snowfall totals.