Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Region’s snowfall unlikely to test records at either extreme

Thu., Nov. 8, 2012

We’re in a La Nada, or the time between the warmer El Niño and cooler La Niña sea-surface temperature events in the south-central Pacific Ocean.

During our heavy snow years, weather patterns were influenced by La Niña and extremely low solar activity. But, sunspot numbers have been increasing over the last year which may indicate that the sun is more active in terms of solar storms and energy output.

Last winter, the Spokane International Airport received 36.8 inches of snow, which was a little below normal. However, Coeur d’Alene picked up a whopping 83.4 inches, which was above normal for the season. When sea-surface temperatures are in the middle, our region tends to get a little more moisture than average. When El Niño fell apart last month, our weather pattern quickly changed to the wetter side after a relatively long summer drought.

Based on the current information, the Spokane International Airport should end up with about 45 to 50 inches of snow for the 2012-’13 season. The normal is about 46 inches. I predict 50 to 55 inches of snow in the Spokane Valley and 53 to 58 inches falling along Spokane’s South Hill. Coeur d’Alene’s snowfall total is projected to be around 77 to 81 inches.

Area ski resorts should see between 195 inches and 410 inches of snow, with Mount Spokane being at the low end of the range and Lookout Pass at the high end.

I don’t believe this year will rank in the top 10 for highest or lowest snowfall. Also, some computer models are predicting a weak El Niño returning in early 2013. If that occurs, then these snowfall predictions will have to be revised lower.

1. 2008-’0997.8 inches
2. 1949-’5093.5 inches
3. 2007-’0892.6 inches
4. 1974-’7589.0 inches
5. 1992-’9387.3 inches
6. 1955-’5683.2 inches
7. 1964-’6581.7 inches
8. 1996-’9780.5 inches
9. 1951-’5279.6 inches
10. 1968-’6977.5 inches
1.1933-’349.5 inches
2.1904-’0511.1 inches
3.1980-’8114.2 inches
4.2009-’1014.4 inches
5.1901-’0214.5 inches
6.1923-’2414.6 inches
7.1943-’4415.3 inches
8.1913-’1415.8 inches
9.1929-’3015.9 inches
10.1972-’7316.0 inches
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at, or go to for additional information.

Click here to comment on this story »