The last three months of 2016 were certainly “extreme” across Coeur d’Alene and the rest of the Inland Northwest. October was the second-wettest month in recorded history with a whopping 8.88 inches of rain. The October normal is only 2.22 inches as we picked up nearly a third of our normal precipitation for an entire year in a single month.
November turned out to be a little wetter than normal, but certainly more manageable. But our old-fashioned winter moved into the region in December and will likely continue through the rest of this month. Yes, we will see milder temperatures with rain in lower elevations this week. Then, cooler air from the north will move in and change the valley rain to snow once again. At least we’ll get rid of some of the deep snows, especially on rooftops. We don’t need any roof collapses with more cold weather due later in the month.
For the rest of January, we should have occasional snowfall beginning late this week and continuing through the end of the month. Also, the long-range computer models are pointing to another Arctic air mass moving over our region around the last weekend of January. There goes my heating bill!
From Dec. 1 through Jan. 12, the average high temperature in Coeur d’Alene is about 36.4 degrees with a low at approximately 24.6 degrees. The mean or average temperature for that period is 30.5 degrees.
Thanks to a series of frigid air masses from the north, temperatures for the last seven weeks have been well below normal. We’ve had many mornings with readings below the zero mark in the outlying areas. Coeur d’Alene’s coldest morning thus far was a minus 5-degree reading on Dec. 17. Other places like Rathdrum, Athol and the airport reported lows from minus 10 to minus 19 degrees last month.
When combining our high and low temperatures from Dec. 1 through Jan. 12, our average reading was only 23.3 degrees, which is 7.1 degrees below normal, the coldest since at least the early 1990s. According to Cliff’s records, the coldest winter in Coeur d’Alene’s history, from November through March, occurred in 1948-49 with an average temperature of 6.4 degrees below normal.
For the 2016-17 snowfall season, Cliff has measured 60.8 inches, the highest since 2008-09. During that snowfall season, we had the second highest amount with a total of 145.6 inches. The previous season in 2007-08, we had a whopping 172.9 inches. The normal for an entire season is 69.8 inches.
We believe Coeur d’Alene should receive another 10-15 inches of snow for the rest of January with another 20 inches in February and March combined, taking our final total to approximately 90 inches. By the way, Cliff is pretty confident that in 3 to 5 years, we could see a winter with a record 200 inches of snow in the lower elevations. After all this snow in a relatively short time this season, I think he may be right.
According to the National Weather Service, a number of stations reported record cold average temperatures from the beginning of December through the end of last week. Some stations include Lines Creek in Idaho with an average temperature of 17.9 degrees. Nuckols and Bonners Ferry had a 22.2 mean temperature. Priest Lake had an average reading of 19.8 degrees. At Spokane’s Felts Field, the mean temperature was 23.9 degrees.
The Inland Northwest hasn’t been the only area experiencing these weather extremes. I’m certain that many of you have heard about the flooding rains in California over the last week. Very heavy rainfall has led to rivers and streams overflowing their banks. Near Sacramento, the Consumes River was going over its banks, which led to evacuations of area residents. There were also numerous mudslides, and an iconic 1,000-year-old redwood tree, known as the Pioneer Cabin tree with a hollow center to allow cars to drive through, collapsed earlier this month during an intense storm.
Major interstates had to be closed in California due to widespread flooding. The floodgates of the Sacramento River were reopened for the first time in about a decade. In the Sierra Nevada mountains, snowfall was measured by the foot. Some places reported an incredible 10 feet of new snow which led to blizzard conditions. The recent rains and snows have added more than 33 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe.
In the Midwest, a wintry mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain caused massive travel problems last week and postponed an NFL playoff game in Kansas City from the afternoon to later that evening. Very icy conditions were also reported in the southern Great Plains.
Also, it’s not just the U.S. that’s getting the frigid and snowy weather. Cliff tells me that much of Europe and Asia are seeing a similar pattern. Snow has been seen in Cairo and Venice. The early portion of January has been some of the coldest weather in history across the Northern Hemisphere. Stay warm.
Contact Randy Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org