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Washington Voices

Snow not blown out of winter, yet

Thu., March 1, 2012

Much like during the first half of January, the first half of February across the lowlands of North Idaho was practically snowless. There were only traces of snow reported at Spokane International Airport through Feb. 13. An inch fell Feb. 14. A more impressive storm system dumped 3.3 inches of snow on Saturday.

The total snowfall for the season at the airport, as of early Tuesday, stands at 27.4 inches. The normal to date is slightly over 40 inches.

Coeur d’Alene picked up 6 inches of snow from the weekend storm. The total for the North Idaho station since July 1, 2011, stands near 60 inches.

Our global weather patterns have been influenced, at least in part, by the cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event, La Niña, during the past several years. The latest information now points to ocean waters that are warmer than normal off the coast of South America. In other words, it seems that La Niña is gone and we may soon be talking about the formation of a new El Niño.

The six-week span from today through April 12 may see several additional snowstorms at the lower elevations with much heavier totals in the nearby mountains. But, a lot of the moisture that falls in March and early April will be in the form of rain and a rain/snow mix.

Mid-April through the end of May will feature a pattern of sun and showers across Spokane and the Inland Northwest. Temperatures will be milder than usual and much warmer than a year ago, when the same period was one of the coldest on record.

June should begin on a damp note, but end with a drier and warmer cycle of temperatures well above normal, especially if we don’t see a quick formation of a new El Niño, or a rebirth of La Niña, in the Pacific Ocean.

July through September is expected to be both warmer and drier than normal thanks to a huge ridge of high pressure that will camp out over the Inland Northwest for weeks on end. I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a couple of afternoons near the century mark this summer with more than 20 days at or above 90 degrees during the 90-day span.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at

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