Monday, March 04, 2024

A November to remember

| December 5, 2022 1:06 AM

It was a “November to remember” in Coeur d’Alene and the rest of the Inland Northwest. Conditions last month felt more like December rather than November, especially with the unusually frigid weather.

According to Cliff’s records, in terms of high temperatures, it was the coldest November in recorded history in Coeur d’Alene. The average high last month was only 35 degrees, which was about 10 degrees below normal. The second coldest November was in 1919, when readings were 7.5 degrees below average. The chilliest November within the last 15 years happened in 2010, when the mercury was 6.5 degrees below normal. The early November period was also the most intense cold wave at that time of year. There were 23 days last month with highs not above 40 degrees in Coeur d’Alene.

At the Spokane International Airport, the average temperature for November, including the high and low, was 28.5 degrees, which was 7.8 degrees below normal. There were also 24 days with highs lower than 40 degrees.

Last month was also one of the snowiest Novembers in history. At Cliff’s station in northwestern Coeur d’Alene, a total of 26.2 inches of snow fell, compared to the average of 8.7 inches. Amazingly, half of last month’s snow, 13.1 inches, came Nov. 30. At the airport, a total of 18.5 inches was measured last month, with a record 7.5 inches Nov. 30.

Although it was very snowy last month, there were three other Novembers with more snow. The record for the most November snow in Coeur d’Alene occurred in 2010 with 38.3 inches. In 1973, a total of 31.6 inches fell with 28.2 inches in 1959. November of 2022 finished in fourth place with 26.2 inches. A total of 24.1 inches fell in 1996, a figure that is now in fifth place. By the way, in 1996, that was the year of the big ice storm across the Inland Northwest.

In the higher mountains, the snow has been falling, much to the delight of area skiers and snowboarders. Silver Mountain has picked up about 15 inches of new snow last week and their depth at the summit is around 38 inches. At Lookout Pass, about 2 and-a-half-feet of new snow has been measured from the last storm. Their seasonal snowfall total at the summit has already topped 100 inches. Schweitzer has also picked up a lot of snow with about 22 inches. Their seasonal total is up to 80 inches, so the mountain areas are off to a good start for snow.

In other parts of the world, the weather has also been very extreme. For example, it was a very mild fall season in the United Kingdom. According to their Met Office, unless December experiences near-record cold, the United Kingdom may experience its warmest year in history. By extreme contrast, it was one of the coolest September through November periods across parts of Australia. In addition, many stations in the southern and eastern portions of the continent reported the wettest October. A series of storms brought heavy rainfall to Australia that led to disastrous flooding.

With the record snows falling on the last day of November across the Inland Northwest, moisture has also been reported down into California. With over a half-inch of rain in Sacramento on Dec. 1, rainfall totals for December are above normal. However, November was another month with below normal rainfall in most locations. Since the beginning of the rainfall season, which begins July 1 across much of California, Sacramento is about 50% of normal. Since Jan. 1, only 4.40 inches of rain has fallen, compared to the normal of nearly 16 inches. For a calendar year, it’s been one of the driest rainfall seasons in history.

In Southern California, recent moisture has been helping to ease the prolonged drought. Weekend rainfall has pushed the seasonal totals to above normal levels in Los Angeles. The rain and snow season for much of the West has certainly been off to a good start.

During the last snowfall season, Coeur d’Alene had a total of over 50 inches of snow through early January. Then, the rest of January, February and March went mostly to the dry side. March of 2022 had no measurable snow in Coeur d’Alene, but April was the snowiest on record with 10.1 inches. Cliff and I believe that our weather pattern for the second half of winter will, at least in part, depend on whether sea-surface temperatures remain cooler-than-normal along the equatorial regions. For now, we believe that the first half of the winter season will be snowier than the second portion.

In the near-term, the long-range computer models are still showing a pattern of colder air moving southward over the Inland Northwest through at least the middle of the month. This will mean more snow in Coeur d’Alene and surrounding regions, but don’t be surprised to see some rain mixing in at times. With the normally wet new moon lunar cycle Dec. 23, we should see some storms around Christmas with a good chance of snow.

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