The past two summers in the Inland Northwest were among the driest and hottest on record.
Despite what many long-term area residents say, a very hot summer doesn’t always yield a cold and snowy winter. Sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean regions and the upper-level jet stream flows seem to dictate what kind of winter we’ll see far more than the previous summer’s weather patterns.
In 2007, the summer was hot and the following winter was very snowy – a near-record 92.6 inches fell at the airport. But, conditions in 2007 were very different than what we have now: sea-surface temperatures were much colder than normal and solar activity was low. In 2014, we have a weak El Nino – or warming – in the Pacific Ocean and solar activity is a bit higher than normal. Therefore, we may see less snowfall than normal this winter.
Since 1888, about half of the subsequent winters following a very warm to hot summer would be described as unusually snowy in the Spokane area. The total seasonal snowfall amounts ranged from a meager 15.9 inches in 1929-30, which was also the driest summer recorded with 0.07 inches, to 92.6 inches in 2007-08.
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