I’ve had a number of people ask me if it’s time to take off their snow tires. I tell them this: “I would wait until at least the end of March.”
Despite the recent drier and milder-than-normal weather over the past week, it does look like we’re going to see an increase in snowfall along with colder temperatures between now and early March.
It’s not uncommon to have winter weather patterns that start out with cold and snowier conditions. This was the case in December and January. Then, we often see a period of drier-than-normal weather in the middle of winter. During that time, many people think it’s time to take off the snow tires. But weather patterns often revert to the colder and snowier part toward the end of the winter. This will likely be the case for the winter of 2012-’13.
We continue to be in a long-standing cycle of weather extremes across our part of the country. For example, the first half of February through Valentine’s Day was similar to 2010 as being the least snowy on the books. This dry February arrived directly on the snowy heels of December and January, which produced a combined snowfall of 38 inches in town.
Since July 1, as of Monday, Spokane International Airport has received 38.6 inches of snow. Only 0.4 inches of snow has fallen in February, but that number is likely to increase through the rest of the month. Before the season ends on June 30, we may see at least another 6 to 10 inches of snow, which would take our seasonal total near or even above normal levels.
2012 was a prime example of weather extremes, especially in North Idaho. The 12-month period produced an all-time record 43.27 inches of precipitation in Coeur d’Alene, easily surpassing the previous record of 38.77 inches set back in the flood year of 1996. At the airport, 21.32 inches of rain and melted snow were reported, compared to a normal of 16.56 inches.
I should also mention that there was a long dry spell from July 21 until Oct. 13, when a mere .13 inches of rain fell from a single thunderstorm on Aug. 21 in Spokane. September 2012 was rainless, quite a drastic contrast from the wet March and June of 2012.
The upcoming spring season looks wetter than normal due to cooler ocean temperatures near the equator.