Saturday, February 24, 2024

Could we see freezing temperatures within weeks?

| September 26, 2022 1:06 AM

Our summer season has come to a close, and it’s been reported that it was one of the hottest ones in history. The average high temperature for the summer of 2022 in Coeur d’Alene, which began on June 21, was 86 degrees, compared to a normal of 81 degrees. According to Cliff’s records, only .26 inches of rain fell from June 21 through Sept. 21, which was the driest summer season on record. That figure beat the previous record for dry summers as .34 inches of rain fell in 1913.

Conditions are expected to be drier than normal through the end of the month. However, around the second week of next month, there appears to be a better chance of rainfall across the Inland Northwest as the big high-pressure system in the Pacific Ocean starts to weaken and move to the south. From the period of mid-to-late October and into December, Cliff and I believe that the overall weather pattern will be turning wetter-than-normal across the region. It’s also possible that we may start seeing some snowflakes in the lower elevation around the middle of November. It’s still early, so we’ll have to wait and see how this new pattern develops.

I’ve been talking about the big drought in California over the last few months. Moisture from the remnants of Hurricane Kay in the eastern Pacific Ocean brought some much-needed rainfall to the Golden State. According to the National Weather Service, the Sacramento area received about a half-inch of rain early last week, but some of the outlying regions picked up over an inch-and-a-half of rain from the system. The normal September rainfall for Sacramento is around a tenth of an inch.

Moisture amounts were very impressive in some of the higher elevations. Over 4 inches of rain fell in some mountain stations in Southern California, leading to some area flooding. For the rest of September, it will be the return of very warm and dry weather across the Golden State. The big storm did help to slightly ease the big drought, but the recent moisture has been encouraging as the state begins to enter its annual rainy season.

After a blistering hot summer, it’s almost hard to believe that we may be weeks away from frosty temperatures across North Idaho. Cliff and I don’t expect to see a hard freeze in Coeur d’Alene until around the middle of October. However, lows near or below the 32-degree mark may be reported in some of the outlying areas, especially in Rathdrum, Athol, Kellogg and other locations in early October.

Based on his records dating back to 1895, the lowest temperature in September was 17 degrees. That occurred Sept. 24, 1926. The following morning, Sept. 25, 1926, the low was 22 degrees. Also, that chilly period had measurable snow in September as an inch fell Sept. 23, 1926. Most recently, Sept. 28, and 29, 2019, a combined 1.1 inches of snow fell in Coeur d’Alene.

Since 1895, the average date for the first freeze in Coeur d’Alene is Oct. 16. Within the last 20 years, the average date for Coeur d’Alene’s first freeze is Oct. 15. The coldest reading ever recorded for October occurred Oct. 31, 1935, with a low of 8 degrees. More recently, the chilliest temperature was 13 degrees on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2006. It was 20 degrees Oct. 10, 2009. Two days later, the mercury dipped to a frigid 15 degrees. That was one of the worst early-October cold waves to hit the region in history.

On the flip side, one of the latest freezes to occur in the Coeur d’Alene region happened in 2014. The mercury didn’t drop below 32 degrees until Nov. 14 with a low of 27 degrees. Last year, we had our first 32-degree temperature of the fall season occur Oct. 7. It looks like there’s a chance we’ll see readings around the freezing mark in Coeur d’Alene around the middle of next month.

On another weather note, the cooler-than-normal sea-surface temperature event in the south-central Pacific Ocean, La Nina, has been gaining strength. If this trend continues, then the chances for above-normal snowfall in the Inland Northwest are higher. We’re also seeing an increase in tropical storms and hurricanes. In fact, as of this writing, Hurricane Fiona was expected to be the most intense storm in Canada over the weekend. Another tropical system was forming in the Caribbean and could intensify into a hurricane later this week, and it could be as high as a Category 4. The main area of concern is going to be Florida, especially the west-central portion. However, the path could change in the coming days.

• • •

Contact Randy Mann at