Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is Winter Over in the Inland NW?

As we expected, this winter has not been very wintry.  Aside from a few cold outbreaks, the temperatures have been very mild without much snow.  So, even though it's still January, folks are asking if winter is over.

First, the official outlook for February doesn't look very promising.  Above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation is expected for the Inland Northwest.

Of course, that doesn't mean we won't see any snow, and that every day will be warmer than normal.  But if you're a snow lover, our chances of seeing more white stuff are getting slim.

On that note, there is hope for some Inland NW residents to see some snow in the upcoming days.  A weak storm will move through the area on Sunday.  Right now, the timing is ideal for snow, arriving during the late night/morning hours.  Most locations will be too warm for snow.  But the northern valleys could see an inch or two.  Here's the NAM model meteogram for Republic, WA:

The snowiest forecast is 2", while the least amount is a half inch.  For Bonners Ferry, ID, the story is similar:

For Spokane, it's a more difficult call.  Here's the same meteogram for Spokane:

This plot shows both the NAM (in red) and GFS (in blue).  The GFS predicts an inch or 2 for Spokane, but this would fall with temperatures just above freezing, so it may be tough to get much accumulation.  And if the precipitation does start as snow, it would probably change to rain in the afternoon.  The NAM is decidedly less excited about the snow chances for Spokane.  This is largely because it expects the precipitation to start later in the day.

Another minor system arrives on Monday but the timing of it looks like mainly rain for the lower elevations, while the mountains will get a few inches of snow.  More storms are expected during the latter half of the week.  Again, timing will be a major importance in determining snow type for the lower elevations, mainly north of Interstate-90.  The mountains will see mostly snow but some rain is also possible for them as well.

So, to answer the original question, no, winter isn't quite over.  But don't expect any major valley snow storms.  Instead, we'll see some threats of lowland snow depending on the time of day (late night/morning), with rain favored for the afternoon/evening hours. 

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