A new weather pattern has moved into the Pacific Northwest. The normally wet new moon lunar phase last week opened the storm door into the region. On Oct. 22, Portland reported record rainfall of nearly 2 inches, more than doubling the total rainfall for the month.
On Oct. 23, a tornado was reported in Longview, Washington. Winds uprooted trees and damaged roofs on many buildings.
Thanks at least in part to the warmer El Nino ocean temperatures along the equator and the Gulf of Alaska, moisture is now streaming into the northwestern U.S. and even southward into central California. But, the source of this moisture is coming from the warmer Central Pacific rather than the colder North Pacific waters. As the warmer sea-surface temperatures are forecast to slightly intensify over the next few months, snowfall totals in the western portion of the country are expected to be below normal for the winter.
Last year, both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene reported snowfall totals a bit below average. The airport measured 37.6 inches, compared to a seasonal normal of about 45 inches. Coeur d’Alene picked up 67.2 inches of snow, compared to the normal of nearly 70 inches.
Snowfall totals in the Inland Northwest usually depend on sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean as well as other weather factors like solar activity, and the various jet stream flows across the Far West. For this winter, we have a weak El Nino and slightly higher-than-average sunspot activity.
Area ski resorts should measure between 180 inches at Mount Spokane to as much as 400 inches of snow at Lookout Pass along the Idaho-Montana border. Spokane International Airport should see about 37 to 42 inches of snow. Spokane Valley is expected to measure 39 to 44 inches this winter. Approximately 41 to 46 inches of snow is forecast on the South Hill. Coeur d’Alene’s totals should range from about 50 inches in the downtown area to more than 60 inches in the northwestern portion of the city.
For November’s weather, I see more showers and seasonable temperatures well into the month with snows occasionally above 4,000 feet. Our best chance for measurable snow would be around the full moon in November, near Veterans Day. I’ll have more updates as the season progresses and if ocean temperatures start to cool down, then we could see a lot more snow than originally forecasted.
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