Though winter doesn’t start until Dec. 21, our snow season is under way.
About 2.5 inches of snow have fallen at Spokane International Airport, while 1.5 have fallen in Coeur d’Alene.
The totals are the reverse of what we usually see. Coeur d’Alene normally receives more precipitation because it is closer to the mountains. As moist air moves toward a mountain, or mountain range, it is forced to rise. This sharp rising motion enhances the precipitation process as the air is cooled.
Much of central Washington is located in the rain shadow of the Cascades where air is traveling down the mountain, warming and drying instead of rising and cooling. Continuing eastward, the terrain begins a gradual upward slope, with increasing precipitation totals toward the Idaho border.
In of our near-term weather, I’m expecting only occasional rain and snow showers across the Inland Northwest into early next week. However, prior to Thanksgiving, we should start receiving bigger storms from the Pacific Ocean. One of those systems should be cold enough to produce measurable snowfall in most valley locations, so get those snowblowers ready.
This also means heavier snowfall in the higher mountains, and some area ski resorts may be open in time for the Thanksgiving weekend. The rest of the resorts should open in early to mid-December.
Between now and the middle of January, it appears we’ll be getting into the grips of a colder and snowier pattern for our area as well as much of the Pacific Northwest. I’m still expecting more snowfall during the first half of the season, when compared to the second half.
Ocean temperatures in the Pacific have warmed up a bit within the last month, so don’t be surprised to see some of our winter moisture come as rain rather than snow. But, I still think it will be a good snow season for skiers, snowboarders and other outdoor enthusiasts.
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