With it being late September now, it’s time to release my winter outlook. Earlier thoughts from earlier this month were for a winter with temperatures on a rollercoaster. This would be due to the Polar Jetstream setting up right along the Washington/Oregon border for a good portion of the winter. This is still looking like a possibility when taking a look at the latest models.
The main thing I always look at is the ENSO which is a body of water off the northwestern coast of South America. Figuring out what the sea temperature will be here will be the key to the upcoming winter season. Throughout the Summer, we’ve been in a negative neutral phrase (sea temps between -0.1 to -0.5c below normal). As of today, we’re still negative neutral. Despite these being very small temperature changes from normal, they are still strong enough to change the main storm track. The image below shows where I think the main storm track will set up this winter.
As shown above, a ridge of high pressure will be across much of the west while a trough will sit in the Eastern 2/3rds of the US. This will result in continued dry and warm weather for the Desert Southwest, possibly even extending up into southern Oregon at times. The Pacific Northwest will be just north of the ridge which will aim the storm track directly at us. With storms coming in generally from the southwest, it will be hard to get a cold air mass in place for snow to fall at all elevations. On the other hand though, with the storm track just to the south, if a cold air mass were to set up, it would likely last for a while. Since it’s too hard to tell for sure, I have our temperatures right around average this winter.
Precipitation will easily be above normal this winter since the storm track will be close by. The main area of heavy rain will be just north of the main storm track. This includes most of Washington, North Idaho and the mountains, and Western Montana. Precipitation will be closer to normal in Oregon and below normal the further south you head.
Snowfall is a big wild card this winter. The mountains should easily see above normal snowfall. The lower elevations are a bit tougher. As I mentioned earlier, the general storm track is from the southwest which is generally warm, but if cold enough air sets up, it could be quite snowy too. Since I’m not 100% sure at this time, I’m forecasting this by elevation.
Elevations 5000′ and up- (50-100″ above normal)
Elevations 3000-4999′- (30-60″ above normal)
Elevations 2500-2999′- (30-40″ above normal)
Elevations 2000-2499′- (10-30″ above normal)
Elevations 1500-1999′- (5-20″ above normal)
Elevations 1000-1499′- (up to 15″ above normal)
Elevations 500-999′- (up to 10″ above normal)
Elevations 250-499′- (up to 5″ above normal)
Elevations 249′ and below- (up to 5″ below normal or above)
With all of that said, since Coeur’d Alene averages 66″ of snow for the winter, we should see 76-96″ this year.