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Snowfall could hit local Top 10 list

| November 9, 2020 1:07 AM

After the driest summer in recorded history, conditions have turned to the wetter side across the Inland Northwest.

Through the first week of November, about an inch of moisture has been recorded in Coeur d’Alene. The normal for rain and melted snow (precipitation) for this month is 3.07 inches.

The normal November snowfall is 8.7 inches in Coeur d’Alene. The overall weather pattern is showing an increase in snow across the region over at least the next several weeks.

The upper-level wind flow patterns will be directing Pacific storms from the northwest rather than from the warmer southwesterly direction. This is certainly good news for snow-lovers, as Cliff and I see above normal snowfall for this month and the rest of the season.

As of Saturday, Cliff had measured around 8 inches of snow for the season. Last month, a record 7.9 inches fell and we had our second snowiest October in a row. In October 2019, we had 5.5 inches, but November 2019 produced only 0.1 inches. We certainly don’t see a repeat of last year as storms are lining up and the air is colder, so the ingredients are there for more snow.

Sunspot activity, or storms on the sun, still remain low. We have a cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event, La Nina, in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. And, the circumpolar vortex, a large-scale low pressure system, is hovering in the western portion of the Northern Hemisphere. If these patterns hold, then it could be a very interesting snowfall season. But, as always, Mother Nature has the final say.

From our annual snowfall forecast issued in late October, Cliff and I see approximately 110 inches of snow in Coeur d’Alene for the 2020-21 season, compared to the normal of 69.8 inches. The area ski resorts should measure 250-300 inches at Mt. Spokane to as much as 450-500 inches of snow at Lookout Pass along the Idaho/Montana state line.

Based on Cliff’s detailed records for Coeur d’Alene, here are the top 10 snowiest winters since 1895 and the top 10 snowiest days. Is it possible that we could challenge the all-time record of 172.9 inches set back in 2007-08? We’ll just have to wait and see, but this season will likely be our best chance for a while.

THE “TOP 10” SNOWIEST WINTERS (NORMAL: 69.8". ALL ABOVE 100 INCHES!)

  1. 2007-08 - 172.9" (190+ inches in Rathdrum and 92.6 inches in Spokane.)
  2. 2008-09 – 145.6” (A record 97.7 inches in Spokane.)
  3. 1915-16 - 124.2" (181.5" at Sandpoint).
  4. 2010-11 – 121.0”
  5. 1968-69 - 117.8" (82.4" in January, 1969 alone in Coeur d’Alene).
  6. 2016-17 – 116.7”
  7. 1949-50 - 111.6" (93.5" at Spokane).
  8. 1992-93 - 103.7" (145.3" at Hayden Lake).
  9. 1931-32 - 103.6".
  10. 1996-97 - 101.4" (150.5" at Sandpoint).

The other season that Coeur d’Alene’s snowfall total exceeded 100 inches was in 1896-97 with 100.5 inches. The 1950s were also snowy years as 99.2 inches fell in 1955-56 and 98.2 inches was reported in 1951-52.

THE “TOP TEN” SNOWIEST DAYS (24 HOURS - 12 A.M. TO 12 A.M. - ALL ABOVE ONE FOOT!)

  1. 2/25/55 - 16.4" (More total snow fell on this single day than accumulated during the entire “open” winter seasons in 1908-09, 1914-15, 1933-34, 1941-42, 1943-44 or 1987-88!)
  2. 1/4/82 - 14.5"
  3. 1/4/93 - 14.2" (21" at Hayden Lake - most ever in 24 hours).
  4. 1.27/69 - 14.1"
  5. 2/25/19 - 14.0"
  6. 1/22/54 - 13.9" (Record of 19" in 24 hours at Sandpoint).
  7. 12/9/22 - 13.8"
  8. 2/29/12 - 13.6"
  9. 1/7/50 - 13.5"
  10. 12/17/61 - 13.2" (Record 12.8" at Spokane).

Most recently, 11.8 inches fell on Feb. 12, 2019. That was a record-smashing month with a whopping 56 inches of snowfall.

On Jan. 26, 2008, a huge storm dumped 11.3 inches and a total of 20.4 inches in 48 hours ending on Jan. 27. On Jan. 4, 2015, another big storm system produced 10.7 inches of snow in Coeur d’Alene.