It’s been very extreme across the Inland Empire

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It’s been amazing to see all the water across North Idaho and other parts of the Inland Northwest. People have been coming up to see and saying that they “have never seen anything like this.” Conditions in this part of the world have been very extreme, especially over the last six months.

For March of 2017, Cliff measured 6.64 inches of moisture, which was the second highest March total in history. The normal is 1.94 inches with the wettest March occurring back in 2012 with 7.51 inches. An observer told me that he measured 8.75 inches of moisture at a location east of the Coeur d’Alene Airport in Hayden last month.

We also had a record number of days with measurable precipitation in March. Out of the 31 days, 25 of them had at least 0.01 inches of moisture. The old record was 19 days in 2012. And, with the many days of rain and the 11.8 inches of snow, there was less than 20 percent of normal sunshine hours, also another record.

For February of 2017, our precipitation total was a record-smashing 8.01 inches, which was nearly four times of normal of 2.17 inches. That month passed the all-time February record of 6.49 inches set back in 1940. When combining February and March, Coeur d’Alene picked up a whopping 14.65 inches of rain and melted snow. That is nearly 55 percent of our annual moisture, which is 26.77 inches, in just two months and over three times the two-month normal of 4.11 inches. By the way, February and March of 2017 combined moisture total is another new record.

For the first three months of the 2017 season, Coeur d’Alene received 17.48 inches of rain and melted snowfall, also a new record. Right now, Cliff tells me that we’re on pace to rival the big moisture year of 2012 when 43.27 inches was reported. However, with sea-surface temperatures warming up in the south-central Pacific Ocean, we do see drier conditions in the late spring and summer.

Over the last six months, since October of 2016, when we started out with the record-crushing 8.88 inches of rain, an amazing 33.12 inches of moisture has fallen, over six inches above our seasonal average. With this total, it’s almost hard to believe that December and January were below normal. In December, we had 3.60 inches compared to the normal of 3.90 inches of precipitation. In January, 2.87 inches fell compared to the normal of 3.77 inches.

As far as snowfall is concerned, there may be a few more flakes of white stuff, especially in the mountains, over the next week or two, but Cliff and I think we’re at the end of the season. Coeur d’Alene topped the 100-inch snowfall mark for the fourth time in less than 10 years with 112 inches. That is the sixth-highest total in recorded history.

The fifth snowiest year had 117.8 inches in 1968-69. Back in 2010-11, Cliff measured 121 inches for the fourth snowiest in recorded history. In 1915-16, the third snowiest, 124.2 inches fell. In 2008-09, the second all-time, a whopping 145.6 inches of snow fell for the season. Of course, many of us will never forget the snowiest winter season back in 2007-08 with 172.9 inches.

With all the moisture, we continue to have some areas of flooding near the lakes, rivers and streams. Folks living near these areas will have to keep watch as we still have a lot of snow in the higher mountains. For example, at Lookout Pass, as of late Friday, over 140 inches of snow was reported at their summit. There is about 125 at Schweitzer with over 80 inches at Silver Mountain. Many of the higher mountains have reported over 400 inches of snow for the 2016-17 season.

APRIL IS here and Cliff and I see more rain through at least the middle of the month. However, we don’t believe the moisture will be as “intense” as February and March. There will be periods of sunshine which we all need. The normal for April is 1.77 inches. It looks like we should be close to that normal, or perhaps a little above, as there is a possibility of a brief dry spell around the end of the month.

May should start off drier than normal, but moisture totals are expected to pick up again later next month and continue into early June. Thunderstorm activity will also increase later in May and temperatures should be close to average, but warm up toward the end of April. By that time, we may see temperatures climbing well into the 60s, perhaps to near 70 degrees. I’m ready!

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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