Weather extremes are off to a fast start for 2018

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Our last big storm across the Coeur d’Alene area late last week created a slushy mess in many spots. At Cliff’s station, nearly 6 inches of snow fell from that system, bringing our seasonal total to 48.3 inches. The normal for an entire season is 69.7 inches.

We still believe that Coeur d’Alene will end up around 83 to 87 inches of the white stuff when the season ends. That figure is down slightly from the 85- to 90-inch forecast as some of this moisture has been falling as rain.

For December of 2017, the first two weeks were the record for least snow. This month, the first 10 days had the record for least snow.

Since late last year, we’ve had the cooler La Nina sea-surface temperature event in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. However, new weather patterns expected between now and the end of January are looking more like the warmer El Nino sea-surface event.

For example, in the western portions of the country, warmer air continues to move northward into the Inland Northwest. Although there was 6 inches of snow from the last storm, other areas had more rain than snow. As we’ve said before, a few degrees one way or the other will often make a huge difference between rain and snow.

For Coeur d’Alene and the rest of the Inland Northwest, after a break from the wet weather pattern over the holiday weekend, more storms are expected through at least the end of the month. Cliff and I see rain and snow events over the next week, with the chances for all snow looking a little better at the end of January.

If we get some of that cold air, which would turn the rain to snow, Cliff and I think that our total snowfall at the end of the month would bring the total to around 60 inches for the season. About 25 more inches of the white stuff is expected in February and March.

Around the rest of the country and the world, the new year, 2018, is barely two weeks old and we’re already talking about more wide weather extremes.

In early January, one of the most extreme coldwaves left the U.S. — especially east of the Rockies — shivering in record-breaking cold temperatures. During this big chill, there were 40 states under official winter alerts for bitter cold and snow.

Some of the most frigid weather was felt in the nation’s midsection. Omaha, Neb., and Des Moines, Iowa, went all the way down to minus 20 degrees. Aberdeen, S.D., went to minus 33 degrees. Both of those locations broke records that stood for about 100 years.

The Southeast and Gulf Coast regions had lows drop into the teens and 20s. The Northeast got pounded by a huge storm that brought 70-mile per hour winds, leading to massive coastal flooding that reached historic levels. The coastal areas of southeastern Georgia saw rare 6-inch snowfalls. Freezing rain was reported around the Atlanta area, turning roadways into skating rinks.

And, if you think that’s cold, Mount Washington in New Hampshire had an air temperature of minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 6. The wind chill temperature went all the way down to minus 97 degrees. Parts of Niagara Falls have frozen over as well.

The extreme cold weather has not been confined to the U.S. In Europe, a very strong winter storm packed 100-mile-per-hour winds, according to the New York Times. Many areas across the United Kingdom had floods due to the heavy rainfall during the first week of this month.

In New Zealand, after a dry summer, heavy rains and strong winds of up to 90 miles-per-hour were reported in early January. Much of central and eastern China was coping with blizzard conditions, resulting in downed power lines and loss of power to millions of people.

During this cycle of wide weather extremes, where you have extreme cold on one side, you’ll likely see extreme heat on the other. On Jan. 7, Sydney, Australia — where that part of the world is in its summer season — the mercury soared to a record 117.1 degrees Fahrenheit, just a degree short of its all-time record of 118 degrees set back in 1939. Some of the outlying areas of that big Australian city had temperatures around 120 degrees. It was so hot that bats were literally dropping out of the sky.

Back in the U.S., California has once again gone from drought and fires to mudslides. Up to 4 inches of rain fell across the entire state earlier this month. Although this greatly helped the fire situation, the devastating mudslides in Southern California killed 20 people. More storms are expected across much of California for the rest of the month.

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Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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