March 12, 2009

How Snowy? How cold?

The National Weather Service released some interesting snow statistics yesterday....this winter was the snowiest since 1971-72 and the 8th snow-filled on record.


67.5 1968-9
63.6 1949-50
27.4 1950-1
26.9 1971-2
24.2 1955-6
23.3 1953-4
22.9 1965-6
22.8 2008-9 (35 DAYS REMAINING)
21.4 1948-9
20.3 1985-6

As of 11 March, 2008-2009 now ranks as the 4th snowiest year in
Spokane with 88.9 inches of snowfall. Only 4.6 inches more snowfall is
needed to become the snowiest year on record, but normal snowfall for
the remainder of the season appears to be about 2 inches, so we are
fast running out of time. Last year (2007-2008) was the 2nd snowiest
on record with 89.5 inches, so 2nd place is easily within reach.

and what about cold records?

Mark Albright noted to me that Meacham OR recorded unusually cold minimum temperatures of -11 F and -12 F the past two mornings (11-12 March 2009). Coop records were maintained at the Meacham airport from 1948 to 1976. During that 29 year period the latest subzero reading was -4 F on 5 March 1955.

Spokane yesterday(11 March 2009) reported a low temperature of 2 deg F! The only comparable temperatures in the historical record are the 3 deg on 13 March 1897 and 2 deg on 6 March 1891, over 118 years ago.

Deer Park (KDEW), 30 miles north of Spokane, reported a low temperature of -12 deg F yesterday, with 10 consecutive hours below zero! The Deer Park 2E coop site which ran from 1911-1977 never reported a temperature this cold so late into March. The coldest this late into March had been -8 deg F recorded in 1943 and 1950.

Other subzero cold spots yesterday were the Freestone Inn at Mazama with -1 F , and in the next valley north, Princeton BC in the Similkameen Valley reported -13 F the day before yesterday and -9 F yesterday. The Mazama coop site, where records extend back to 1950, has never experienced subzero cold this late into March.

But please! No comments about all this disproving global warming! One year means nothing.

PS: I will be on the road this weekend giving some talks"

Sunday, 3 PM, Bainbridge Island, Eagle Harbor Books
Monday, Olympia:

noon, Olympia, General Administration Building, sponsored by Olympia State Capitol Museum, NW Weather and Climate lecture and signing
South Puget Sound Community College, Olympia, reception 5 PM, lecture 7 PM, Kenneth J. Minnaert Center Fine Arts Auditorium, small suggested contribution


  1. Cliff,

    On the otherside of this coin I had a friend say that it never hits 100+ at sea tac. Is this true?

  2. The high temp record for seattle is 100F...

  3. Cliff,

    Thanks for pointing to some records on the "other" side of the state. One point to add:

    The low temperature of 2F recorded here yesterday was more than just a daily record. It was the coldest low that Spokane has ever seen this late in the winter.

  4. Hi Cliff,

    There is an interesting looking mid-latitude cyclone forming NNE of Hawaii that is headed in our general direction. It has gotten much more organized since earlier this morning and looks like it has lots of energy.

    Any thoughts on this one?

    At least it will be warmer and wetter here finally. The frogs out have been trying despite the cold weather. One hears their chirping late into the evening even after the frosts start forming. For them, this warmer and wetter weather will be Party Time.

    Casey Burns
    Kingston WA

  5. So the record for seattle is at sea tac then? And has it hit 100 more than just once?

  6. Cliff, good that you mentioned Meacham OR. 4000'. I've been there on Labor Day when it got down to 20 above at night. We noticed the similarities with the La Grande vicinity and wondered if that's because it sits in a low area with sinking air pouring in?

    I found this too


  7. About the snow measurments at KSEA-
    Former weather observer here.
    Where are the snow measurements made at KSEA now?
    The snow totals for the storm with strong east wind looked quite low. I watch the observations closely and it looked as if there were taking measurements in wind blown areas.
    I am well versed in the art of snow depth measuring, and here in normandy park at 128 feet we have 21.8 inches, I work at the airport and the storm in question had noticably more more at the airport elevation during the period of the 3 day storm in Dec.
    It seems to me that the observers could use some training on snow measurements in snow blown conditions.

    Its also a shame that they have stopped recording snow totals at KSEA in 1996

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  9. Cliff.. great entry!! Glad you included GEG in there. Being from Spokane, I have great respect for our NWS office downtown. That reminds me, Ron Miller, if you read this please send me an email... about the hail storm about 2 or 3 weeks ago, or if someone can post your contact info...somehow my spam filter took it to bye-bye land, but I think you emailed me.. Thanks!

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Made little typo first time around some am re-posting...

    Reaching 100 degrees does`nt happen VERY OFTEN that I am aware, but do get the odd summer here/here of when it does. I know came with 1 degree of hitting that mark. I had a high of 99 back on July 21st of 06 and then came close back in July of 07 with high of 97.

    So that being said, I have yet to record a triple digit number since keeping track from back in 2001.
    ------------ mentioned about it warming up with some rain. Well you know what? While at Tiger Mountain today, I was thinking to bad this warm sub-tropical airmass coming in for next week is going to melt a lot of this snow away. Sad thing for ski folks making doe up at the passes and hoping stretch the ski season into spring time.

  12. Great stats Cliff! I would love to find out what other weather watchers from around the Sound reported for winter snowfall. My goal someday is to locate the "Snowiest" as well as the "Wettest" neigbhorhood in King, Pierce, or Snohomish County. Any thoughts??? Clearview is one that comes to mind.

  13. In the past, you've written about how there is a regular decades-long cycle to snowfall in the Northwest and that since the 1970s we've been on the "less snowy" side of that variation. Could we be switching back to a snowier regime now, more like the 60s?

  14. Kenna,

    You mention the frogs chirping.

    Very unscientific, but when I lived in eastern Quebec the sounds of frogs emerging from hibernation in the ponds was not only the harbinger of Spring, but also the signal that the sap was going to flow. Farmers with their horse-drawn sleds with kids hanging on would that morning head into the woods. Soon you'd see smoke rising through the trees all over the countryside as stoves were fired up. All this signaled by the frogs.

  15. > But please! No comments about all this disproving global warming! One year means nothing.

    Thanks for mentioning that, but I'll bet someone somewhere will try to make that correlation.

    That said, it is interesting to note that the next-most-recent year is twenty-three years ago in 1985, that there's one year in the '70's, two in the '60's, three in the '50's, and two in my decade, the '40's.

    For those sceptical of global warming I suggest watching record high and low temperatures on the evening news' weather. It's a common pattern (no data, just anecdotal observation) that record highs are often relatively recently (the last 8-10 years) while record lows are often twenty or thirty years ago.

    Is there anything to what I think I'm seeing as a possible correlation -- not "proof" of anything -- but stil a valid talking point regarding global warming?

  16. So 48-55 seemed incredibly snowy with almost every year being in the top 10. Any idea why that was?

  17. I have a friend who wondered if this winter had a record number of snow days -- which, of course, is different from the cumulative snow inches record. I told her I seriously doubt it; are there any records kept for number of snow days in a particular winter?

  18. Cliff,
    Agreed that one year alone means nothing.

    How long of a trend would you say is meaningful? Average temperatures have been trending lower since 2001, right?

    Also, the argo robots measuring temps in the oceans slow slight cooling in recent years.

    Finally: why was there published "consensus" that there was global cooling in the 70's? Pollution of the atmosphere was much worse then vs. today. Why did people think human-caused emissions caused cooling back then?

    Thanks for your wisdom.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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