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Harris-Mann Climatology Article Archive

Title: I See Record Snows in the Pacific Northwest in 2019-2020

Author: Climatologist Cliff Harris
Published: 3/14/2014

One of the coldest and snowiest winter seasons in recorded history east of the Rockies, especially east of the Mississippi River, will end this coming Thursday, March 20, with the long-awaited arrival of the spring of 2014.

The ice coverage this winter of 2013–14 in early March on the Great Lakes of Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario reached a near-record 92.2%, exceeded only by the all time record of 94.7% in 1979 when Niagara Falls also froze over. On March 9 of this year, Lake Champlain, located on the New York and Vermont borders, likewise froze solid for the first time in several years.

The snows in upper Michigan were so deep this winter that people were driving around in tunnels. The snows extended deep into the heart of Dixie were Jonesboro, Arkansas set a new record for the total seasonal snowfall. Atlanta had a crippling snowstorm in late January and another snowstorm that closed schools and businesses less than two weeks later in early February.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, as of March 14, observed an all-time record 92 days below zero this winter season, easily surpassing the previous mark set in 1978-79 of 73 such bitterly cold mornings. What happened to ‘global warming’?

The late-winter period locally in North Idaho was also cold and snowy. We had several days of near or below zero temperatures and a whopping near-record 50.2 inches of snow between January 28 and March 3 in Coeur d’Alene with nearly 70 inches of the white stuff gauged in the Twin Lakes area in that five-week time span.

The big question that I’ve received from numerous Press subscribers and others concerns just when I see a possible record cold and snowy winter season across North Idaho and the surrounding Inland Empire even worse than 2007-08.

If I’m right with my long-range weather prognostications for the region, six years from now in the winter of 2019-20, I foresee at least 215 inches of snow being measured locally in Coeur d’Alene between October 2019 and April 2020, easily smashing our current record of 172.9 inches of snow set back in 2007-08, when many buildings collapsed in late December and early January in the region.

During the winter of 2019-20, it’s possible that some of the snowiest areas of North Idaho in Rathdrum, Twin Lakes and Priest Lake, may gauge as much as 250 inches of the white stuff. Lookout Pass, along the Montana and Idaho border, could measure as much as 600 inches of snow, if my extremely snowy forecast for 2019-20 turns out to be right on target.

Not only will the winter of 2019-20 be unbelievably snowy, but it will likewise be much colder than normal throughout the inland Northwest, much like the current expiring winter of 2013-14 east of the Rockies.

The climatological reasons for my predicted record cold and snowy winter six years from now stem from my opinion that we will see a massive collision of the various cycles that produce such extremely wintry conditions in the Inland Empire.

I see the strongest cold water ‘La Nina’ in recorded history developing by mid 2019 in the eastern Pacific Ocean regions. At the same time, we’ll be near a solar minimum in terms of sunspot activity. The frigid ‘circumpolar vortex’ should also back up bringing subzero Arctic air into our part of the country that for several months-on-end and will collide head-on with copious amounts of moisture from a stationary ‘Mother Low’ in the Gulf of Alaska that will build in the early mid to fall of 2019 and will endure until at least the early spring of 2020.

I see at least 85 to 90 days during the 2019-20 winter season with measurable snow in the Coeur d’Alene area. Average temperatures will run at least 6 to 10 degrees below normal all winter. Nearly 95% of all the precipitation that falls during the winter of 2019-20 in town will arrive in the form of snow compared with a normal winter season’s less than 40 percent due to frequently mild Pacific air masses scouring out the cold.

I’m predicting that January 2020 will break the all-time snowfall record of 82.4 inches set back in 1969, when there were likewise building collapses in the region. Oddly enough, January will probably be the only month with record snows in 2019-20.

As I said previously, only January 2020 should see a new monthly all time snowfall record. But, all the months from October 2019 through April 2020 will measure above normal amounts of snow. That’s the ‘recipe’ for a record snowy winter season that doesn’t quit.

As far as temperatures are concerned, I see at least 27 days in 2019-20 with subzero readings and two or three mornings below -20 degrees. But, will we break our all-time record low in Coeur d’Alene of -30 degrees set on January 30, 1950? I doubt it due to the extensive amounts of cloud cover.