December 27, 2013 in City

Inland Northwest has seen very dry six-month period

By The Spokesman-Review
File photo

Camp Chevrolet car salesman Slater Kuykendall brushes off a line of Chevy Cruze cars as snow falls in early November in Spokane. Despite that snowfall, this has been one of the driest winters for the Spokane area, according to weather experts.
(Full-size photo)

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There is a 30 percent chance of light snow today with a wintry mix of snow or freezing drizzle possible tonight.

The lack of snow and rain in the second half of 2013 has left the Inland Northwest way behind on accumulated precipitation.

The National Weather Service on Thursday posted a chart indicating that Spokane is in its 16th driest half-year on record. Snowfall records in Spokane date to 1889.

Forecasters said the 6.5 inches of snow recorded at Spokane International Airport so far this season is 15.6 inches below normal.

Spokane would need 38.5 inches of snow for the remainder of the season to reach normal snowfall, the weather service said.

The 11.3 inches of precipitation Spokane has received in 2013 is 4.8 inches below normal. However, there is a 30 percent chance of light snow today with a wintry mix of snow or freezing drizzle possible tonight from a weak storm system descending out of Canada.

Air quality in Spokane was measured in the moderate range Thursday, but no burning restrictions were in effect in Spokane or North Idaho, where air quality was good.

However, the Washington state Department of Ecology has issued a stage-1 burn ban for Kittitas, Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Asotin and Walla Walla counties until 4 p.m. today.

The ban could be extended, officials said. The Ecology ban applies to all outdoor burning and use of uncertified stoves or fireplaces. Certified devices were built after 1990.

Spokane could undergo a burn ban if air quality worsens, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

The weather service maintained its air stagnation advisory through noon Monday for the Spokane region and much of Eastern Washington with the exception of the Palouse and North Idaho. A similar air stagnation episode prompted burning restrictions prior to Thanksgiving.

A ridge of higher air pressure along the West Coast is sending storm systems into Canada with only weak impulses expected across the region through the weekend and much of next week.

The stable air mass has created a temperature inversion, in which air in the lower level of the atmosphere is colder than air aloft. An inversion prevents pollution from being mixed and blown away. Highs should be in the 30s and lows in the 20s.

The inversion also brings a risk of late-night and early morning fog. Drivers should be prepared to encounter fog, which can create slick conditions when the temperature falls below freezing and the fog collects on the roadway.

Forecasters said there is a chance of a storm at the end of next week.

The weather service’s long-range forecast for January, February and March is calling for colder-than-normal temperatures and normal precipitation.

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