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Randy Mann: Northwest spared from early, heavy snow

Thu., Oct. 17, 2013, midnight

Most of October has been fairly nice across the Inland Northwest.

Despite a number of days with clouds and showers, we’ve had plenty of afternoon sunshine. For the past week, it’s been a bit chilly with afternoon highs a few degrees below normal.

However, it’s been a different story across parts of the nation’s midsection. For example, the heaviest early season snowstorm on record in the western Great Plains killed “tens of thousands” of cattle in western South Dakota during the first week of October. Most of this huge livestock loss was not covered by insurance. More than 4 feet of snow fell in the Black Hills.

On Oct. 4, a storm system brought blizzard conditions, thunderstorms and tornadoes of up to 2-miles wide across Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska. Snowfall in the northern Plains measured from a few inches to several feet, extremely unusual for early October.

In addition to the central U.S., early snows have also piled up across some major cities in Europe. In Munich, 8 inches fell last weekend. Four inches was reported at Innsbruck, Austria, closing the autobahn for several hours.

It was also very snowy in Switzerland. As much as 31 inches was reported, the most in about 200 years. Early season snows have already been reported in the mountains of Italy.

Government forecasters in Britain warned that the entire country may be in store for “brutal winds and fierce blizzards” in November.

“We are looking at a potentially hazardous winter, the worst in decades, which could at times grind the nation to a halt,” one British forecaster said. “A horror winter scenario is likely to bring another big freeze with copious snow for many parts. This is likely to produce major disruptions to public transportation and school closures on a prolific scale.”

The upcoming winter could be harsh across parts of the northern regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Solar activity is dropping fast and we don’t have the warm, El Nino sea-surface temperatures in the south-central Pacific Ocean.

In our region, I expect the snow to start flying toward the middle of November. The early portion of the winter is expected to start out a bit snowier than normal, but below normal precipitation is forecast for the second of half of this winter season.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at wxmann, or go to www.longrange for additional information.

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