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More weather extremes in 2023

by RANDY MANN
| December 25, 2023 1:06 AM

Thanks, at least in part, to the warm water phenomenon, El Niño, many residents across the U.S. were disappointed with the lack of snow on Christmas Day. As of Dec. 22, the National Weather Service showed that approximately 13% of the U.S., not including Alaska or Hawaii, had snow on the ground. If we don’t see any additional snowfall Dec. 25, this would be the least amount of snow on the ground across the country over the last 20 years. The areas favorable for snow-covered ground are mainly across the Rockies, the High Plains and the higher mountains in the West and Northeast.

As of this weekend, there is the possibility of some snow in the lower elevations Monday night and Tuesday. The rest of the week across the Inland Northwest is expected to be unsettled with the chance of rain or snow. The early portion of 2024 will continue the threat of additional storms moving in from the Pacific Ocean. However, it still looks like the air mass will continue to be too mild for any significant snowfall in the lower elevations.

Despite the milder conditions, there’s still a chance that we’ll receive some of that colder air from the north for a period of snow across Coeur d’Alene and other parts of the Inland Northwest, especially around the full moon cycles at the end of January and February. It’s always a “temperature thing” when it comes to snow in the lower elevations and a few degrees can make all the difference.

El Niño is expected to peak in early 2024 and could start falling apart during the summer of 2024. Therefore, we do believe the chances for a White Christmas will be higher next year.

With the strong El Niño and ocean waters across the rest of the Earth also being higher than normal in 2023, global temperatures have also been breaking records.

One region that sweltered last summer was Siberia, a place mostly known for its extreme cold. On June 3, dozens of heat records fell as high temperatures were near or above the 100-degree mark, a very unusual event. One of the hottest readings recorded on that date in Russia was 100.9 degrees at Kurgan, located in the southern part of Siberia. Other nearby stations reported their hottest temperature ever recorded June 3.

Another scorching heatwave was felt in India earlier in June before rain and cooler temperatures moved into the area during the last weekend of the month. According to a CNN article, the northern state in India called Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 220 million, reported extreme temperatures as high as 116 degrees. Other locations, such as Thailand and Vietnam reported temperatures above 110 degrees during the late spring season.

According to NOAA, the summer of 2023 was the hottest in history. It was also one of the hottest summers ever recorded in Phoenix, Ariz. For 54 consecutive days, the high temperature was at or above 110 degrees, an all-time record. Phoenix also had the hottest July and second-hottest August since weather records began in 1895.

Some of the hottest temperatures last summer were reported in and around Death Valley, Calif. This area is notorious for extreme summer heat as temperatures were near 130 degrees in mid-July. On July 16, Death Valley’s Badwater Basin had a high of 128.5 degrees but only managed to cool to around 115 degrees shortly after midnight.

In Coeur d’Alene, it was a very warm summer with 27 days with high temperatures at or above 90 degrees. The hottest afternoons were Aug. 15 with a reading of 102 degrees and August 17 with a scorching high of 101 degrees.

In addition to the long list of heat records reported in 2023, there were also some very chilly days. According to the National Weather Service, on Feb. 4, the mercury plummeted to -36 degrees in Old Forge, N.Y. On that frigid day, wind chill temperatures across many stations in the Northeast dropped to near -50 degrees. It certainly wasn’t nearly as cold in Coeur d’Alene, but we did have one morning with temperatures below the zero mark. On Jan. 30, the low temperature dipped to -1 degrees. Most recently, record cold gripped parts of China. Earlier this month, stations in central China reported temperatures below -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

During El Niño years, the number of named storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters are often below the average of 14 per season. However, the 2023 season had 20 named storms and the fourth most active one on record. There were seven hurricanes with three reaching major strength as a Category 3 or higher. Hurricane Idalia was the only hurricane to make U.S. landfall. This happened Aug. 30 and hit near Keaton Beach, Fla., as a Category 3. Tropical Storm Ophelia hit Emerald Isle, N.C., on Sept. 23, bringing heavy and widespread rain, strong winds and significant flooding.

Let’s hope that 2024 won’t be quite as extreme. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Cliff Harris and Randy Mann.

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Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com.