Saturday, December 09, 2023

Welcome to Winter No. 2

Hagadone News Network | March 12, 2023 1:00 AM

So much for an early spring.

Anywhere from a few inches to more than 7 inches than seven inches of snow fell throughout North Idaho, breaking the previous single-day snowfall record for March 10 of 3 inches set in 1955.

Snow blowers, snowplows and shovels were called into action as residents tried to dig out of the winter storm.

"And it's still snowing," said climatologist Cliff Harris shortly after measuring 7.2 inches of heavy, wet snow at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Friday's snowfall was good for ski resorts.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort reported 5 inches of snow in 12 hours, bringing its season total to 253. All lifts and runs were open.

Silver Mountain Ski Resort was expecting around 10 inches of snow Friday, bringing its season total to about 240 at the summit. All lifts were in operation.

Lookout Pass reported 8 inches of snow in 24 hours, bringing its total to 385 at the summit. All five lifts were operating, with 52 trails open and 30 groomed.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service's March Idaho Water Supply Outlook Report, the snowpack in Idaho as of March 1 is near to above normal except near the Canadian border.

It said precipitation in the Panhandle basins during February was considerably higher than January.

"This helped sustain water year total precipitation levels at 75% of normal," the report said.

Panhandle snowpack is similar to last month at about 90% of normal.

The report said the Panhandle basins typically reach peak snowpack around mid-April, "so there is still time to reach normal peak snowpack levels in the higher elevation mountains."

Despite the latest snowfall in North Idaho, 79% of Idaho lands are in moderate to severe drought, and the remainder of the state is abnormally dry, the report said.

But that is expected to ease.

"The seasonal drought outlook predicts drought removal across Idaho," the report said.

Harris said it has snowed 14.9 inches so far in March, a record for the first 10 days of the month.

Normal March snowfall is 6.7 inches. The record is 31.2 inches in 2007.

Harris said it's a tale of two winters, based on six-week "patterns of extremes," which he said he predicted.

"I talked about two winters and it certainly has been," he said.

The first six weeks of winter fell between early November and Dec. 21, with above-normal snowfall.

The next six weeks delivered little snow, and even days of sunshine and temperatures above 40 degrees.

It was one of the warmest and most snowless winter stretches ever, Harris said.

The next six-week cycle started just before Valentine's Day. Since Feb. 28, 20 inches of snow has fallen in Coeur d'Alene.

The season's snowfall is at 81.2 inches, close to Harris' prediction of 83.

He said North Idaho hasn't had a day above 50 degrees since Nov. 6, but that could change Monday. Harris expects it to warm up, bringing a mix of snow and rain, then cooling off to the 30s as the week goes on.

He sees another chance of significant snowfall in late March.

"We're not done yet," Harris said.

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