Reviewing 7 soggy, snowy months in North Idaho

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After so many days of rain, snow and chilly weather over the past seven months, we finally got a good taste of summer last Thursday as temperatures soared into the 80s across the Inland Empire. Coeur d’Alene had a high of 83 degrees. That was within 4 degrees of the record, 87 degrees, set back in 1966.

Weather patterns seem to be changing across the U.S. and the rest of the world. Sea-surface temperatures have been warming up in the south-central Pacific Ocean over the last few months, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a new, warm El Nino later this summer or fall season.

During most El Nino patterns, our region tends to warm up and dry out during the summer season. We also see an increase in moisture across the southern U.S., especially around Texas and the Gulf Coast. Earlier this month, there was “historic flooding” from Texas into Missouri due to very heavy rainfall. Assuming El Nino is declared, our winter season of 2017-18 will likely have below normal snowfall.

The last seven months saw some of the most extreme weather across Coeur d’Alene and surrounding areas in history. As we all know, Cliff Harris keeps meticulous records for Coeur d’Alene and was kind enough to help me with this week’s column.

The seven-month rainy season between Oct. 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, was the wettest such period on record across the Pacific Northwest, including many towns in North Idaho.

Seattle and Portland received between 45 and 52 inches of precipitation this past rainy season. Spokane had more than double its normal Oct. 1 through April 30 moisture as the airport picked up a record 21.24 inches of rain and melted snow. The normal is about 11.80 inches.

Here in Coeur d’Alene, Cliff gauged a whopping 37.41 inches of precipitation during the October-through-April time period along with heavy snows topping 115 inches for the season, which includes a record 3.3 inches on April 10.

The season began last October with an incredible 8.88 inches of rain in Coeur d’Alene, which easily broke the previous record of 6.96 inches set back in 1951. Our normal October rainfall since records began in 1895 is 2.22 inches.

Oct. 14, 2016 also set a new record for daily precipitation of .91 inches. We saw our wettest Halloween ever as an amazing 1.32 inches of rain fell.

Measurable amounts of rain were reported on 26 out of 31 days in October 2016. The previous record was 18 days in 1951.

November and December precipitation in Coeur d’Alene was near normal. Only a “trace” of snow fell in November, but a whopping 36.4 inches of snow was gauged in December 2016 giving us a very white Christmas.

January of 2017’s precipitation was actually a bit below normal at 2.83 inches, the normal being 3.77 inches. But, we did receive a healthy 29.9 inches of snow during the 31-day span which pushed our seasonal to 65.3 inches at the end of February, less than 5 inches under our normal total snowfall for an entire season of 69.8 inches.

The record rains of October returned in February of 2017 as we measured 8.01 inches of precipitation during the four-week span. Our wettest February previously was 6.49 inches in 1940. Our February snowfall was a near-record 34.9 inches. Coeur d’Alene’s seasonal snowfall topped 100 inches by Feb. 28. A record 11.2 inches of snow fell on Feb. 4 and a daily record of 1.19 inches of rain was also observed on Feb. 16.

March turned out to be the second wettest on record with 6.64 inches of precipitation exceeded only by the 7.51 inches of moisture gauged in 2012, which was our wettest year on record with 43.27 inches. Cliff and I believe that it’s possible that we will come close or break this record in 2017 during this cycle of wide weather “extremes.” A new daily rainfall mark of 1.07 inches was observed on March 14. March snowfall was double normal at 11.8 inches.

April of 2017 was, like March, the second wettest such period on record with 4.29 inches of moisture. An amazing 0.97 inches of rain fall on April 27, a new record for the date. The 3.6 inches of snow, well above normal once again, pushed our seasonal total to 115.6 inches, compared to the normal of 69.8 inches.

Thanks again to Cliff for all of this information.

AS FAR as our local weather is concerned, we expected to see more showers and thunderstorms across the region through early June. But, we don’t expect to see near-record amounts of moisture as May’s precipitation total should be close to the normal of 2.37 inches.

During the “last quarter” of May 19 to 26, there should be at least a few days when we are treated to some warm afternoons with highs into the 70s and lots of sunshine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some locations once again climb into the 80s.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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