Thursday, December 08, 2022

More frigid weather coming to the northwest

| November 14, 2022 1:07 AM

Since Nov. 7, Coeur d’Alene and the rest of the Inland Empire has been in the grips of one of the most intense early November cold waves in recorded history. The average high temperature at Cliff’s station in northwestern Coeur d’Alene has been around 33 degrees, compared to the normal of about 45 degrees. Amazingly, our average morning low at this time of year is 32 degrees. Some of our local observers last week did report high temperatures in the mid 30s to lower 40s. At the Spokane International Airport, highs were in the 30s from Nov. 8 through the weekend.

In terms of snowfall, our region is off to a good start for the 2022-23 season. Both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene have received over 7 inches of snow. At Cliff’s station, there has been a total of 7.1 inches for November, compared to the normal of 8.7 inches. In Spokane, where snowfall totals are typically less than in Coeur d’Alene, the airport has picked up 7.4 inches.

In the mountains, there has been about 10-20 inches of snow since the beginning of the season at Silver Mountain, with approximately 44 inches at Lookout Pass. Schweitzer has received 37 inches for the season through the weekend. The good news for the ski resorts is we don’t see a significant warming in the region within the next week to 10 days. In fact, additional blasts of cold air are expected to work its way down into the western and central portions of the country into next week.

Except for the possibility of snow flurries later this week, conditions should be mostly dry into the early portion of next week across the northwestern U.S. Then, we may see some moisture override the cold air trapped at the surface and bring more snow to North Idaho and surrounding regions during Thanksgiving weekend. It’s also possible that warm air from the south will move northward and turn the snow to rain at times, but mainly in the lower elevations.

The frigid air mass due at the end of the week may also bring freezing temperatures all the way into Oklahoma and perhaps as far south as northern Texas. The clash between the cold air from the north and warm air to the South could also bring moderate to heavy snows across the northern U.S. and trigger some strong thunderstorms across the southeastern states during the holiday weekend.

One of the reasons for the very cold conditions across the northern portions of the country is due to the strengthening La Nina sea-surface temperature event in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. Many forecasters are saying that the cooler La Nina event will peak very soon and start to weaken toward a La Nada, the in-between La Nina and warmer El Nino early next year. Assuming this is the case, Cliff and I believe that we should see more snow during the first half of winter than during the second half. We’re still predicting that Coeur d’Alene will receive about 80 to 85 inches of snow for the season. Places to the north should see seasonal snowfall totals above 90 inches. Area ski resorts should range from approximately 225-250 inches at Mt. Spokane, 250-300 inches at Silver Mountain and around 375-400 inches at both Lookout Pass and Montana’s Whitefish Mountain.

Despite the expected above-normal snowfall forecast, there will be instances when a number of these Pacific storms will likely produce rain rather than snow in the lower elevations. We’ve seen so many extremes in our region, including the warm October to the frigid November.

The La Nina likely contributed to the rare November hurricane that hit the eastern shore of Florida last Thursday. The storm was named Nicole and came onshore as a Category 1 system near Vero Beach. Winds were clocked at 100 miles per hour at Cape Canaveral and 84 miles per hour at Daytona Beach. Over 6 inches of rain was reported in these areas. Nicole was the third hurricane on record to make landfall in Florida during the month of November. The last time a hurricane made landfall in the continental United States was Nov. 21, 1985, which was Hurricane Kate. It was also the latest that a hurricane ever hit the U.S.

In the Atlantic and Caribbean waters, there were three tropical systems that formed in eight days in November. These formations are more typical of August, but there were no named storms that formed in August for the first time in 25 years. The official end to the tropical storm and hurricane season in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters is Nov. 30. After a slow start, there were 14 named storms for the season, which is the 30-year average.

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