Thursday, January 20, 2011

Heading for another record of snow?

Streets, bare a day ago, were snow-filled again in Spirit Lake and throughout Idaho's Panhandle/Ralph Bartholdt

About 21 inches of snow usually accumulates in January outside the average interstate whistle stop in Idaho's Panhandle.
A lot more snow, usually measured in feet, piles at higher elevations and in places farther north and south from the city of Coeur d’Alene, which lies along a lake at 2,200 feet.
A half hour north of Coeur d’Alene, the community of Spirit Lake — at 2,600 feet — is in a snow belt and is known locally for its winter accumulation.
Yesterday, I drove my compact car down Spirit Lake’s streets as my studded tires made a crunching noise on the pavement.
Studded tires, all the rage around Thanksgiving and Christmas when the roads up here filled with slush, snow, ice and cars half in and half out of the ditch, weren’t needed today.
The streets were dry, the pavement gray as a roofing shingle and the only snow lay in big, frozen piles, dirty and scalded by a week’s worth of sun and rain, at intersections.
I cruised slowly.
The speed limit in town is 15 mph.
My tires sounded like boots sneaking down a trail of glass.
Sun lay flat in the yards, warmed the storefronts and when I drove down to the lake where Idaho Fish and Game added a super parking lot for the summer boaters, I watched people lounge on the dock as if summer beckoned and the long shadows of winter were a thing of the past.
Sorry Charlie.
We woke this morning to a dusting of snow, but Cliff Harris, the confounding variable among Idaho weathermen, was right again.
Snow, he had said.
Predictions, predictions.
Sure enough, there it was.
The new seasonal snowfall average for the last decade is close to 70 inches in the lake city, according to Harris, who predicts this season’s total will go over 90 inches.
So far this winter, we’ve seen a lot of blizzard-like storms that blanket the area in snow, which melts, leaving things bare for a while before another front moves in.
So far, we've had around 70 inches of snow this winter, more than we would normally get from November to June.
“This winter's final total should be near my predicted 92.4 inches in Coeur d'Alene,” Harris said. “But, if La Nina continues to strengthen in the Pacific and sunspot activity remains low, we could crack the century mark for the third time in four seasons.”
Time will tell.

Ralph Bartholdt

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