Winter 2020-2021 in Review

December

Temperatures were above normal in the mountains and below normal at lower elevations due to temperature inversions.  The entire region was drier or much drier than normal. The driest areas were the central Snake River Valley, the Camas Prairie, and the Boise Mountains.   An upper-level high pressure ridge dominated through the 10th, keeping our region dry. Burns was an exception, where a weak upper level low pressure trough brought light snow on the 6th.  From the 11th through the 16th, a temperature inversion resulted in areas of night and morning fog. A trough from the Gulf of Alaska brought light snow on the 13th and 14th. It was too weak to mix out the inversion, as most of its energy crossed the Intermountain Region well south of our area. 

The inversion finally broke as a stronger trough crossed the area on the 17th, bringing 5-10 inches of snow to the mountains, but only light precipitation in the valleys. An exception was the .55 inch rainfall at Jerome, which established a new record for the date.  Mild westerly flow aloft brought a warming trend from the 18th through the 22nd.  High temperature records were tied or broken at several locations on the 21st and 22nd

City New Record Old Record Year
Baker City 56 55 1972
Burns 53 51 1972
Jerome 58 58 1969
McCall 43 43 2019
Twin Falls (21st) 59 53 2014
Twin Falls (22nd) 50 50 2005

A strong Pacific cold front crossed the area on the 22nd, followed by a 10-20 degree temperature drop. Strong northwest winds gusting to 40-50 mph followed the front. A gust of 57 mph was measured north of Andrews in Harney County.  The trough which followed the front produced light precipitation at lower elevations. Moderate amounts of snow fell in the mountains, including 5 inches at Brundage.  

https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1341508962311688197/

Following this system, a strong ridge kept skies mostly clear through Christmas eve.

A weak trough brought mainly light precipitation on the 25th and 26th. Boise was an exception, where a third of an inch of precipitation fell on the 26th, which included half an inch of snow. A few inches of snow fell in the mountains. 

Another temperature inversion formed on the 26th, and locally dense fog returned to the valleys.  With cold air trapped in the valleys, temperatures failed to reach the freezing mark at many of the usually warmer locations in the 28th and 29th

https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1343759866368675842?s=20

The final trough of the month weakened as it moved inland on the 31st, but it was able to drop several inches of snow on the mountains, including 8 inches at McCall and 6 inches at Tamarack.

DecemberDecemberp

January

Temperatures were above normal across the region, and much above normal in the Snake River Valley and parts of southeast Oregon.  Most of southern Idaho and parts of Baker and Harney Counties in Oregon were drier than normal, while the Treasure Valley and west central Idaho received above normal precipitation.  

https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1345922598413062145

Strong westerly flow across the Pacific was charged with abundant moisture as it swept inland with a warm front on the 3rd, resulting in heavy precipitation. Totals from a half inch to an inch of water were common, falling as rain at lower elevations and snow in the mountains. Bogus Basin accumulated 7 inches.  Strong west winds, mostly in the 40 to 50 mph range, followed a cold front on the 4th.  A gust of 63 mph was measured at Wagontire in Harney County.  On the 5th another warm front brought heavy snow to the mountains. Banner Summit got 14 inches. Bogus Basin and Tamarack received 10 inches. Atlanta also got 10 inches. Bogus Basin got 7 additional inches on the 7th as a trough crossed the area. Little if any precipitation fell at lower elevations from the 5th through the 7thOn the 12th a weak but moist trough embedded in the westerly flow brought more snow to the mountains, while relatively light precipitation fell at lower elevations. At Council 7 inches was measured, and 6 inches fell at Brundage and McCall.  A cold front crossed the area on the 13th, followed by wind gusts of 30-45 mph.

High pressure kept the area mostly dry from the 14th through the 20th.  From the 21st through the 26th, weak troughs moving down the coast from the Gulf of Alaska brought only light precipitation to our valleys and a few inches of snow to the higher elevations.  A record low temperature of 10 degrees was set at Twin Falls on the 25th, breaking the old record of 12 set in 2008.  On the 27th a stronger trough centered over southeast Alaska deepened southward just offshore. Southerly flow aloft on the east flank of the trough was felt at the surface as gusty south to southeast winds, generally in the 40 to 50 mph range. A gust of 68 mph was measured at Trail Gulch, 14 miles east-southeast of Hollister.   Also on the 27th, moderate amounts of snow fell in eastern Oregon and west-central Idaho, due mainly to lifting of the air by the mountains. At McCall 9 inches was measured, and 7 inches fell at Midvale. At Huntington in Baker County 5 inches was reported. 

Januaryp

January

February

February was a month of very active weather. Temperatures were near or above normal at most locations. February is normally warmer than January, but this year it was actually colder than January at Boise, McCall, Mountain Home, and Ontario. It’s not the first time this has happened, but at Boise it was the fourth year in a row.

On average, February is the driest winter month, but this year it was the wettest in the Treasure Valley and eastern Oregon. However, the Boise Mountains, Camas Prairie, and Magic Valley were drier than normal.  The month began with above-normal temperatures under southwest flow aloft ahead of an offshore trough. As the trough moved inland, a cold front crossed our area during the afternoon and evening of the 2nd.  This marked the beginning of a pattern change which would lead to long overdue winter weather for the valleys. Northwest flow aloft developed on the 4th and strengthened during the following days.  On the 5th, a fast-moving trough from the Gulf of Alaska brought a few inches of snow to the mountains, but its main impact was strong west to northwest wind. Gusts of 45-55 mph were common, but by far the strongest wind measured was 92 mph at Soldier Mountain.  Meanwhile on the 3rd, arctic air had plunged south across the Canadian border east of the Rockies. The mountains, and strong northwest winds aloft, kept it out of Idaho. A second invasion of even colder arctic air entered Montana on the 5th. By the 6th, its western margin had stalled along the Montana border.  Meanwhile, the “milder” western portion of the same arctic airmass was drifting south through the mountains of British Columbia. It entered Washington on the 8th and northeast Oregon on the 9th.  The front marking its leading edge reached eastern Oregon and southern Idaho on the 11th.  Moist air streaming inland ahead of an approaching trough was lifted over the cold air north of the front, resulting in snow which became heavier as the trough drew closer on the 12th and crossed our area on the 13th.  Snowfalls of 3 to 6 inches were common in the valleys on the 12th.  Up to 6 more inches fell on the 13th, with heavier accumulations in the mountains. By the time the snow ended, 7 to 10 inches had accumulated in the Treasure Valley. McCall, which nearly always gets way more snow than Boise, also reported a storm total of 10 inches. Totals of 13 inches were measured at both Bogus Basin and Magic Mountain ski areas, while Twin Falls reported only 2 inches.  The 4.4 inches which fell at the Boise airport on the 12th broke the old record for the date of 1.3 inches set in 1966, and the 5.5 inches on the 13th broke the old record of 4.3 inches set in 1995.  

On the 15th another trough from the Pacific brought more snow, with 1 to 4 inches in the valleys and 5 to 10 inches in the mountains. Wind gusts of 40 to 55 mph were observed in Harney County and the Magic Valley.  From the 16th through the 22nd, Pacific systems brought more snow to the mountains but generally light precipitation in the valleys. With afternoon temperatures above freezing, there was little if any snow accumulation in the lower valleys.  On the 23rd, a cold front was followed by a wind event which mainly affected southeast Oregon and areas east of Boise. There were many reports of gusts in the 45 to 55 mph range, but a gust of 67 mph was measured at Twin Falls.  On the 26th, another strong cold front swept across the region. One of the stronger gusts was 59 mph from the west-northwest at the Boise airport. A brief snow squall followed the front, but less than half an inch fell at the airport.  

On the 27th a trough from the Gulf of Alaska brought heavy snow to the mountains. Some of the heavier totals were 12 inches at Mores Creek Summit, 15 inches at Banner Summit, 20 inches at Tamarack, and 22 inches at Brundage.

November 2020 Weather Summary

November’s temperatures averaged close to normal.  Precipitation was generally above normal, although there were areas near the Nevada border where precipitation was less than 50 percent of normal.  A strong upper level high pressure ridge over the Intermountain Region on the 1st and 2nd weakened on the 3rd, but above-normal temperatures continued through the 6th ahead of a Pacific cold front.

On the 2nd, the highs of 70 at Burns and Twin Falls tied their records for the date. The 74 at Jerome set a new record, as did the 68 at Baker City.  On the 4th, new records were set at both Burns and Baker City with highs of 70 and 71 respectively.  On the 5th, Boise’s high of 76 set a new record for the date, as did the highs of 75 at Burns, 69 at Ontario, and 72 at Baker City.
On the 6th, the high of 67 at Ontario set a new record for the date. The high of 71 at Mountain Home tied their record.
The cold front crossed southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho on the 6th with little if any precipitation. The cold upper-level low pressure trough behind the front drifted south over California before settling over the Great basin on the 7th. At the same time, a second trough from Alaska was deepening over western Canada.
On the 8th, light to moderate amounts of snow fell as the Canadian trough joined forces with the Great Basin trough. Snowfalls in the Boise area ranged from 1 to 4 inches. The 2.7 inches at the Boise Airport set a new record for the date.
Yet another trough, this time from the Gulf of Alaska, arrived over the northwest U.S. on the 10th with only light snow. Meanwhile, a band of westerly flow aloft, aka the jet stream, was strengthening south of the Aleutians. Its arrival over the northwest coast on the 13th was preceded by a very active weather disturbance.
Rainfall amounts with this system included over two-thirds of an inch at Jerome and McCall, nearly a half inch at Boise, and a third of an inch at Burns and Ontario.
Heavy snow fell in the mountains, including 9 inches east of New Meadows, 8 inches northwest of McCall, and 10 inches near Halfway and Sumpter in Baker County.

Also in eastern Oregon on the 13th, a wind gust of 66 mph was measured north of Wagontire, and a gust of 63 mph was measured north of Andrews.
On the 15th, copious Pacific moisture accompanying a warm front brought more rain. The 0.46 inch at Boise and the 0.28 at Twin Falls were new records for the date.
More snow fell in the mountains, including 4 inches east of New Meadows and 9 inches at Cuprum in western Adams County.
Temperatures had been below normal since the 7th, but an upper-level high pressure ridge following the warm front raised temperatures above normal on the 16th.
On the 17th, a cold upper-level low pressure trough, which had been deepening off the B.C. coast, generated a strong cold front which pushed rapidly inland. The front, energized by the jet stream, was accompanied by thunderstorms with abundant lightning as it roared across southwest Idaho during late afternoon on the 18th.


Storm reports in the Boise area included brief heavy showers which produced from a quarter to a half inch of precipitation, small hail covering the ground at some locations, and wind gusts exceeding 40 mph. An inch of rain fell at Placerville and three-quarters of an inch near Horseshoe Bend.
The cold front caused only slight cooling, and temperatures remained above normal through the 19th under southwest flow aloft.
The next several days were much less dramatic as a series of relatively weak troughs and ridges crossed our area. During the morning of the 25th, a better organized trough brought light snow. One inch was measured at the Boise airport. Most of it melted during the afternoon.


By the 27th, a high pressure ridge had built over the northern Intermountain Region. As is typical of this time of year, the warm air aloft and nighttime cooling in the valleys resulted in an inversion which kept temperatures below normal from the 28th through the 30th.

On the 30th, a weather disturbance brought more light snow. It was not strong enough to break the inversion.

Snow across the mountains was well above normal for November standards.


November temperature anomaly
November precipitation departure

September 2020 Weather Summary

September was warmer than normal. On the 4th, record highs of 102 were set at Boise and Burns. The 99 at Ontario tied the record for the date. On the 5th, the high of 100 at Boise tied the record for the date, and the 98 at Twin Falls set a new record.
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It would have been even warmer had it not been for widespread smoke and haze from wildfires.


It was a dry month, especially in southcentral and southeast Oregon, where totals were less than 5 percent of normal across a wide area.
September precipitation departure
September temperature anomaly
A very warm upper-level high pressure ridge anchored over the western region kept temperatures above normal during the first week of the month. By the 8th the ridge had migrated far enough west to allow a very cool upper-level low pressure trough to drop south from Canada.


The cold front ahead of the trough crossed our area on the 7th. Following the front, northwest winds in the 40-50 mph range were common. A gust of 54 mph from the northwest was measured near Boise.
https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1303333613392388097?s=20
The trough kept temperatures below normal. Highs failed to reach 70 at a number of locations on the 8th.
Following the trough, the ridge built inland, and temperatures were above normal again on the 11th. The ridge dominated through the 17th, with highs in the 80s at many lower valley locations.
The northern part of the ridge gave way to a Pacific cold front on the 18th. Most locations received only light precipitation. Isolated thunderstorms generated outflow winds over 40 mph.
From the 20th through the 25th, the ridge was alive and well over the southwest U.S., while southwest flow aloft on its northern periphery kept temperatures in our region above normal.
Meanwhile, a more fall-like pattern was developing as westerly flow aloft strengthened across the North Pacific.
The upper-level winds carried a fast-moving weather disturbance inland on the 25th. While rainfall was generally light in the valleys, McCall set a record for the date with .54 inch.


Temperatures stayed below normal through the 27th. On the 28th the ridge, now resurrected over the west coast, brought a warming trend. It would guarantee above-normal temperatures through the 30th and beyond.

August 2020 Climate

August was warmer than normal across the area, and a number of record highs were set.
August 2020 temperature (2)
August 2020 precipitation

On the 15th, the high of 99 at Burns set a daily record.

On the 16th, the high of 103 at Boise set a daily record. A record of 100 was set at Burns.

On the 17th, the high of 102 set a record for the date at Boise. Other record highs include 106 at Mountain Home and 99 at Baker City.

On the 18th, the 98 at Baker City tied the daily record.

On the 19th, the 97 at Twin Falls was a record for the date.

It was drier than normal nearly everywhere, but, as mentioned in the July summary, that’s actually normal.

Monsoon thunderstorms brought more wind than rain.

On the 15th, a thunderstorm near Andrews, Oregon broke off dead tree limbs and did other minor damage. At Little McCoy Creek in Harney County, a gust of 63 mph was measured by automated equipment.

On the 17th, a gust of 70 mph was measured by a spotter. A spotter in Fields, Oregon measured a sustained speed of 44 mph with a gust of 58 mph. A spotter in Fields measured a 54 mph gust which resulted in lost power. There were numerous other reports of gusts exceeding 50 mph.

On the 18th a spotter in Oreana reported half-inch diameter hail.

As usual, the seasonal upper level high pressure ridge over the southwest states was the main source of the heat. An occasional Pacific cold front provided some respite, but there was no significant cooling Until the end of the month.

Had the air been clear, it would have been even hotter. But widespread smoke from wildfires limited high temperatures on many days. Persistent southwest flow aloft transported the smoke from its California source.

The monsoonal moisture brought high dewpoints to the region, which helped fuel afternoon and evening thunderstorms from August 24th through the 29th. Boise recorded the highest dewpoint since September 5th, 2013 on August 25th.

On August 26th, a long-lived supercell thunderstorm tracked across Owyhee County with 2″ diameter hail.

Overnight on the 29th, a dry cold front brought much cooler air from western Canada. Highs were around 15 degrees lower than on the previous day.

Northwest winds at the surface and aloft behind the front temporarily swept away most of the smoke.

On the 31st, a weather system from British Columbia brought clouds, a breezy afternoon, and slightly cooler air.

June 2020 Climate

Temperatures varied widely during the month. Most of southwest Idaho was cooler than normal. Most of southeast Oregon had near or slightly below normal temperatures, but Baker City, Burns, and Rome averaged warmer than normal.

From the 1st through the 4th, temperatures were above normal under dry and relatively warm westerly flow aloft. On the 5th, southwesterly flow ahead of a Pacific cold front brought even warmer air.

Gusty west winds followed the cold front. Many locations reported gusts in the 50-70 mph range. The strongest was 77 mph at an automatic observing site 10 miles southwest of Hill City.

https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1269481164642738178

A cold upper level trough from the Gulf of Alaska followed the front. High temperatures were as much as 30 degrees cooler from the 6th through the 8th. Tamarack Ski recorded 17″ of snow, while 15″ fell at Brundage and 8″ at Bogus Basin.

Except for northern Harney County, and a narrow strip between the Snake River and the Owyhee Mountains, June was wet, especially in a corridor from southern Malheur County across the central Idaho mountains. The Treasure Valley was the wettest area in the region. Boise had the third wettest June on record.

On the 7th, rainfall set new records for the date at McCall (1.13 inches), Ontario (.35 inch), and Twin Falls (.28 inch). During the three day period from the 6th through the 8th, McCall measured 1.75 inches and Boise 1.11 inches of rain. Much less fell elsewhere. Baker City and Burns received only traces.

Following the trough, a high pressure ridge brought dry and warmer weather from the 9th through the 12th. The high of 90 at Twin Falls on the 12th set a record for the date.

The cold front ahead of the next trough arrived on the the 12th. Following the front, west winds gusted over 50 mph at many locations. The strongest reported gust was 61 mph at Grassy Mountain 19 miles southeast of Rome.

On the 13th, an upper level low pressure trough lifted north from California, generating a band of heavy rain which was mainly confined to the Treasure Valley. Many reporting points in Ada, Baker, and Washington Counties measured just over one inch. Record rainfalls for the date were set at Boise (1.21 inches) and Ontario (.74 inch).

https://twitter.com/HeyMzWilliams/status/1271904256530907136

Rainfall from the 13th through the 17th totaled 1.81 inches at Boise, 1.11 inches at McCall, .83 inches at Ontario, and 1.31 inches at Rome. On the 13th, rainfall amounts set records for the date at Boise (1.21 inches) and Ontario (.74 inch). Outside of the heavy rain band, other locations in southeast Oregon received between a quarter and a half inch. Southeast of Boise, Mountain Home got only .11 inch and Jerome .12 inch.
On the 16th, yet another trough arrived from the Gulf of Alaska, keeping temperatures unseasonably cool through the 18th.

On the 24th, thunderstorms brought hail and strong gusts to a few locations. Four miles south of Jamieson in Malheur County, hail one inch in diameter covered the ground and caused damage to crops. Quarter inch hail fell nine miles north of Vale. Thunderstorm winds exceeded 50 mph at a few locations in Owyhee County.

On the 25th, the high of 94 at Twin Falls tied the record for the date set in 2015.

On the 27th another unseasonably cold low pressure trough was bearing down from the north.

The cold front ahead of this trough crossed our area late on the 27th. The air behind the front was much cooler and initially dry. but as the trough settled over the northern Intermountain Region, it entrained a plume of moisture from across the Pacific, resulting in moderate amounts of rain at several locations on the 29th and 30th. The most reported was .77 inch at Ontario.

At Twin Falls on the 28th, a daily rainfall record was set (.25 inch), and a record low temperature was set (42).

On the 29th, daily rainfall records were set at Ontario (.74 inch) and Twin Falls (.18 inch).

https://twitter.com/IdahoITD/status/1277704643385016320

Also on the 29th, the low of 41 at Twin Falls set a new record low for the date.

 


June 2020 temperatureJune 2020 precipitation

Winter 2019-2020 in Review

Winter 2019-2020 was much warmer than normal, with the greatest departures in the western portion of our County Warning Area (CWA). The average temperature for December through February at Ontario, Oregon was 7.4 degrees above normal, making it their third warmest winter on record. 

Snowfall was generally below normal, mainly because of the unusually warm temperatures, but below-normal precipitation in some areas also played a part.

Most of our forecast area had near normal precipitation for the season. Camas, Twin Falls, Gooding, and Jerome Counties, and the Owyhee Mountains, were drier than normal. Southern portions of Harney, Malheur, Owyhee, and Ada Counties were wetter than normal, as was Baker County, with the notable exception of the Baker Valley, which was significantly drier than normal.

One of the large-scale controlling mechanisms for winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere is the Arctic Oscillation (AO). It is characterized by a counterclockwise circulation of winds around the Arctic, centered at about 55 degrees north latitude. This winter it was in its positive phase, meaning that the winds were strong and consolidated.  This tends to hinder arctic air from moving south into the lower 48 states.  Most of this winter the AO was strongly positive, especially in January and February.  In fact it set all-time records twice in February.  

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New Daily Records

Dec 21 – McCall – record high temperature of 43 (old record 42 in 1906)
Dec 22 – McCall – record high temperature of 48 (old record 46 in 1940)
Jan 26 – Boise – record rainfall of .74 inch (old record .40 inch in 1970)
Feb 5 – Boise – record snowfall 2.6 inches (old record 2.1 inches in 1948)
Feb 5 – Baker City – record rainfall of .25 inch (old record .16 inch in 2010)

December

Temperatures were relatively mild, especially in the Treasure Valley. Ontario had its sixth warmest December on record. Baker City had its eleventh warmest. 

Aside from portions of Harney County, most of our CWA was drier than normal. Factors contributing to the precipitation deficit included a split in the jet stream, leaving our area between northern and southern branches. Most of the Pacific moisture moved south over the southwest states instead of east over our area. During periods of west or southwest flow over our CWA, some valleys were in the precipitation shadows of mountain ranges. This effect was especially pronounced at Baker City and Mountain Home, downwind from the Elkhorn and Owyhee Mountains. However,  precipitation at McCall was enhanced by lifting over the higher terrain to their east. 

Despite widespread below-normal precipitation, there were several storms which produced significant snowfalls. 

On the 1st and 2nd, 5 to 10 inches of snow fell in southeast Oregon and the mountains of southwest Idaho. Amounts were lighter in the Treasure and Magic Valleys, where only 1 to 3 inch amounts were reported.  

On the 8th, heavy snow fell in the mountains of Baker County Oregon and the west central Idaho and Boise Mountains. The greatest reported amount was 13 inches at Atlanta Summit and Deadwood. 

On the 12th, Bogus Basin received a 9-inch snowfall. Tamarack ski area got 14 inches, and Brundage accumulated 12 inches. The heaviest amount was 15 inches at Mores Creek Summit. 

From the 13th through the 16th there were relatively light amounts of snow across most of the area. Exceptions included 7 inches near Frenchglen in Harney County, 12 inches east of Three Creek in southern Twin Falls County, and 8 inches near Murphy Hot Springs in Owyhee County, all on the 14th. 

On the 19th, 6 inches was measured at Council in Adams County and at Placerville in Boise County, while 9 inches fell at Bear Saddle Snotel in Washington County.

On the 20th, 8 inches fell east of Meadows in Adams County and at Halfway in Baker County. Tamarack in Valley County picked up 11 inches. 

December 2019 precipitation

December 2019 temperature

January

Temperatures were above normal across nearly all of our CWA, and much above normal in the Treasure and Magic Valleys and southern Malheur County. Boise was +6.2° F above normal for the month – making it the fifth warmest January on record.

Strong westerly flow aloft maintained a progressive pattern which brought Pacific weather systems across our area at frequent intervals. This hindered the formation of long-lasting temperature inversions and discouraged arctic air from pushing south.

A persistent ridge of high pressure off the California coast steered storm systems, including a series of atmospheric rivers, into the Pacific Northwest. Atmospheric rivers are long narrow streams of air carrying large amounts of moisture. They are responsible for most of the water vapor transport outside the tropics. 

Most of our region was wetter or much wetter than normal. The mountains of central and northern Idaho and northeast Oregon saw a significant improvement in snowpack. 

Snow fell nearly every day in the mountains.

A storm on New Year’s Day dropped heavy snow on the mountains of Baker County and central Idaho. Storm totals included 14 inches at Tamarack and McCall, 15 inches at Brundage, and 5 inches at Bogus Basin. 

Strong winds were reported at many locations that day, including gusts of 67 mph  east of Van in northern Harney County, and 65 mph south of Rogerson in Twin Falls County. Elsewhere, gusts of 45 to 55 mph were common.

From the 9th and 14th, snowfall was heavy in the mountains. Even in the lower valleys moderate amounts fell. 

A storm total of 18 inches was reported at Centerville in Boise County.  In Valley County storm totals included 23 inches near Donnelly, 17 inches at Yellow Pine, and 9 inches at Cascade. In Baker County Halfway’s total was 17 inches. Featherville in Elmore County accumulated a total of 36 inches. 

Total snowfall at Boise for the six days was 8 inches, more than half the total this winter. The most on the ground was 4 inches on the morning of the 15th. 

A couple of places reported strong winds on the 14th, including a gust of 63 mph at Rome in Malheur County and 58 mph at Twin Falls.

January 2020 precipitation

January 2020 temperature

February

February was colder than January at several locations. Normally  February is around 5 degrees warmer than January. Still, Februrary was warmer than normal across most of our area. 

On the 5th and 6th a warm front, which had entrained tropical moisture from east of Hawaii, brought heavy snow to the mounains and moderate amounts of rain and snow to the valleys. 

In Baker County, 7 to 8 inches of snow fell near Baker City, and 12 inches was measured at Sumpter.  In Valley County 17 inches fell near McCall and at Yellow Pine. Near Donelly 9 inches was reported. In Adams County New Meadows got over 25 inches. The storm total at Brundage was 40 inches. 

A storm on the 16th dropped 4 to 5 inches of snow on Boise County. McCall received only 3 inches. Rain fell in the lower valleys. By far the greatest reported amount was 0.53 inch at Boise, which set a new record for the date.

During the afternoon and evening of the 23rd, gusty northwest winds followed a strong cold front. Some the the stronger gusts reported included 67 mph at Baker City, 77 mph at Wagontire in Harney County, 67 mph at Midvale Hill in Washington County, 53 mph at Burns in Harney County, 56 mph at Black Canyon in Payette County, and 65 mph near Hammett in Elmore County.

February 2020 precipitation

February 2020 temperature

February 2020 Climate Statistics

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February was colder than January for the third consecutive year. Normally December is the coldest month, with January half a degree warmer, and February about 5 degrees warmer than January.

With an average temperature of 36.9, winter (Dec-Feb) 2019-20 was the fifth warmest at the airport (80 years of records) and the eleventh warmest at all official observing locations in Boise (156 year of records). The season’s low was 16 on October 30 and January 15. The only other time the coldest “Winter” temperature occurred in October was in 2002, when the low was 13 on the 31st.

Snowfall for the season so far has been 15.4 inches, compared to the normal of 17.6 inches for October through February.

On the 1st an upper-level high pressure ridge kept temperatures above normal. A cold front passed Boise just after midnight that night. Northwest winds gusted to over 30 mph just behind the front. The strongest gust was 38 mph at 10:26 am MST on the 3rd. An upper-level low pressure trough, followed by northerly flow aloft, kept temperatures below normal from the 2nd through the 5th.

On the 5th and 6th a warm front, which had entrained tropical moisture from east of Hawaii, brought nearly half an inch of precipitation over the two-day period, including nearly 3 inches of snow ahead of the front on the 5th.

The central Idaho and northeast mountains had 36+” of snow with this system.

Following the warm front, temperatures stayed above normal starting on the 6th under the influence of an upper-level high pressure ridge parked off the west coast. The ridge moved inland on the 12th and 13th, followed by fast and relatively mild westerly flow aloft on the 14th and 15th.

On the 16th a very moist disturbance embedded in the westerly flow brought a record amount of rain, most of which fell between 12:30 am and 12:30 pm MST. A cold front crossed the Boise area at about 12:45 pm MST, ending the main rain event. Unstable air behind the front set off a brief thunderstorm with small hail around 3:30 pm MST. The total precipitation of.53 inch set a new record for the date, exceeding the previous record of .40 inch in 1976.

Temperatures stayed below normal from the 17th through the 21st due to northwest flow aloft and cool surface high pressure.

A brief warmup followed on the 22nd and 23rd ahead of a strong cold front. The front crossed the Boise area at 6:19 pm MST on the 23rd with only a trace of rain. The main impact was strong north-northwest wind which gusted to 48 mph at the airport at 6:46 pm MST. Temperatures stayed below normal through the 25th.

Temperatures gradually warmed from the 26th through the 28th as an upper-level high pressure ridge crossed the intermountain region. The high for the month was 63 on the 28th.

A dry cold front moved through early on the morning of the 29th, and the high that day was 15 degrees cooler.  Here are the climate graphics for selected cities across southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho.

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January 2020 Climate Statistics

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It was the fifth warmest January at the airport, where records go back to 1940, and the eighth warmest January in the Boise area in 156 years of temperature records.

A strong westerly circulation maintained a progressive pattern which brought pacific weather systems across our area at frequent intervals. This hindered the formation of long-lasting temperature inversions. It also prevented arctic air from pushing as far south and west as Boise.

The low for the month, and so far this winter, was 16 on the 15th and also on the 30th of October. The probability is slightly above 50 percent that the temperature will fall below 16 in February.

Precipitation was nearly one inch above normal.

Snowfall totaled 8.9 inches, compared to the normal 5.1 inches. The temperature rose above freezing every day, limiting accumulation. The longest period of snow cover (1 inch or more) was five days from the 13th through the 17th. The greatest depth was 4 inches on the 15th.  Here are other stations across southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon.

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December 2019 Climate Statistics

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It was one of the milder Decembers. Only eight Decembers were warmer in the 80 years of airport records.  No temperature records were broken or tied.

The temperature rose above freezing every day except the 29th, when the high at the airport was 32 degrees.  However, nearby Boise locations warmed into the mid-30s that day.  Normally there are 7 days in December when highs fail to exceed 32 degrees.

The relatively warm weather was due the absence of long lasting temperature inversions, and a pattern which kept arctic air east of The Rockies.

The 22nd was the warmest day with 61 degrees, under strong southwest flow aloft ahead of an upper level trough.  It was also the windiest day, with a gust of 36 miles per hour from the southeast.

Precipitation was half an inch below normal.  Snowfall was less than half normal.  The greatest snow depth was 1 inch on the 2nd.  The average December has 7 days with an inch or more on the ground.

The precipitation deficit was due to a tendency for storm systems to move south over California, rather than moving east over our area.

Nearly half of December’s precipitation fell from the 11th through the 14th, when a brief pattern change allowed moist westerly flow aloft to push inland over the northern intermountain region.

Across southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, it was a common theme of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation and snow.

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November 2019 Climate Statistics

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Temperatures at lower elevations averaged near normal, but over the higher terrain, temperatures averaged warmer or much warmer than normal.  This pattern reflects the temperature inversions which were prevalent during the month.

No temperature records were broken or tied.

Precipitation was sparse for the month as a whole. But ironically, a storm at the end of the month brought heavy snow to some areas.

Following a period of cool northwest flow aloft at the beginning of the month, an upper level high pressure ridge which resided over the west coast kept our weather mainly dry.

On the 16th a low pressure system weakened as it moved through the ridge. It produced only traces of rain.

On the 19th and 20th another unremarkable system split as it moved inland, with the strongest portion heading south toward southern California and Arizona.  Following this system, the ridge rapidly rebuilt over the northwest U.S.

By the 24th a pattern change was underway as the ridge shifted west over the Pacific, allowing an upper level cold low pressure trough to deepen over the Intermountain Region. On the 25th a weather system from the Gulf of Alaska moved into the trough, dropping  traces of snow at a few valley locations before heading for the four corners area.

The next system was much more dramatic. As the storm intensified over the northwest coast on the 26th, it generated a steep pressure gradient across southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho, creating strong southeast surface winds. Gusts exceeded 50 mph at many locations. A spotter near Hollister in Twin Falls County measured a gust of 69 mph.

 

The storm also produced appreciable amounts of snow, not only at higher elevations, but also at a few valley locations. On the 27th there was an unofficial report of 10 inches at Baker City. A spotter at Burns measured 7 inches. At Weiser 5 inches fell, and Midvale got 7 inches. Even a few locations in the lower Treasure Valley got an inch or two. Amounts in the upper Treasure Valley were generally less than half an inch, leaving only traces on the ground.

Snow continued to fall before the trough jumped the Rockies and headed across the Midwest. Lower elevation reports on the 29th include 2 inches at Buhl and Glenns Ferry, 3 inches at Hammett and near Mountain Home, and 4 inches at Gooding. In Malheur County 5 inches fell at Rome and Jordan Valley.

The 30th brought partial clearing under a transitory high pressure ridge.

 

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