Randy Mann: Inland Northwest on dry side as winter nears

Winter begins at 9:11 p.m. Saturday.

Snow hasn’t been very plentiful across the Inland Northwest. So far, the Spokane International Airport has picked up only 3.3 inches of snow this season, which is more than 10 inches below normal. Coeur d’Alene has seen about 3.9 inches, also well below average levels for mid-December.

There has been a stubborn ridge of high pressure located over the Far West. However, there will be several storms moving through the region between now and Christmas. It looks like we’ll see occasional snow showers from these systems, so there is still a chance for a white Christmas.

This has been one of the driest Decembers in recent memory. At the airport, only 0.24 inches of rain and melted snow has been reported. That’s about an inch below normal at this time of year. Most of the moisture came on Dec. 1 with 0.22 inches. Although, it appears we’ll start picking up some precipitation through the end of the month, the final rain and melted snow total for December will likely end up well below normal.

For the year, Spokane’s total precipitation will also end up below average. As of early Tuesday, we’ve only received 10.92 inches of rain and melted snow for 2013. The normal for a year is about 16.5 inches. In 2012, we had more than 20 inches of moisture to date.

In terms of temperature, we’ve seen some wild extremes. The month started off with highs in low to mid-40s. From Dec. 3-10, afternoon readings were below freezing, with highs of 15 degrees reported on Dec. 7 and 8. The airport, as well as many other locations, dropped below zero on Dec. 8. Then early this week we were back above normal with highs in the 40s.

Following the rather mild period across the Inland Northwest earlier this week under high pressure, colder air from the far north has moved into the region. Temperatures, however, will not be as bitterly cold as earlier this month. There should also be more snow shower activity around New Year’s Day as the high pressure system weakens. Stay tuned.

Contact Randy Mann at www.facebook.com/ wxmann, or go to www.longrange weather.com for additional information.

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