Warm-up expected moving through spring


After nearly three weeks of damp and chilly weather across the Inland Northwest, a strong ridge of high pressure is bringing us drier and milder weather.

There may be a few showers late on Saturday, with the next chance of measurable precipitation around the first weekend of May. In between those storms, we should have highs in the 60s and even some 70s. It’s about time.

There were unusually late season snowfalls across the northern U.S. east of the Rockies over the past few weeks. To the south, severe flooding has been reported in the Midwest this week.

Dangerously high waters continued across wide areas of six Midwestern states following up to 8 inches of rain in some places during the previous week.

Record flooding has occurred as rivers crest and overflow their banks up to 15 feet above flood stage. Two Mississippi River bridges were closed last weekend. Severe flooding was reported at Clarksville, Mo. This town has been flooded at least eight times since the disastrous flood of 1993, including in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008.

The Wabash River in Indiana went 14 feet above flood stage last Saturday, its highest level since 1958. Croplands looked like lakes across much of the Midwest. Severe planting delays are likely.

Our extreme weather across parts of the country may be caused by the warming and cooling of sea-surface temperatures. As of late April, we are in between the warmer El Niño and cooler La Niña, which is called La Nada.

The latest computer models predict that ocean temperatures will cool down over the summer. In January and February, ocean waters were warming and many wondered if we were going to see a new El Niño. However, sea-surface temperatures have cooled since the middle of April.

If the cooler La Niña returns by the late summer or fall, the winter may be snowy. Remember, during recent La Niña years, we had above normal snowfall across the Inland Northwest, including the record snow of 97.7 inches in 2008-09 at Spokane International Airport. I don’t expect to see snowfall totals approach that level.

In the meantime, we should still see a sun and shower type spring with readings above normal toward the middle and end of May. Our summer looks very good with lots of sunshine with an occasional thunderstorm.

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