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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October 2019 coldest on record in some places across SE Oregon and SW Idaho

Temperatures were well below normal during October 2019. Jerome, ID, Fairfield, ID, Burns, OR, Halfway, OR and Ontario, OR recorded the coldest October on record.  Fairfield, ID had snow cover at the end of the month, and shattered their previous October record by 5.6 degrees, finishing 10.3 degrees below normal for the month.  Idaho as a whole, ranked as the coldest October on record.

It was a dry month, with below normal precipitation across most of southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho.  But a few locations, mainly in Harney County, were actually wetter than normal.

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Baker City, OR ranked as 3rd coldest October on record.
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McCall, ID ranked as 4th coldest October on record.

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It was the third coldest October in 80 years of airport records, and 6th coldest on record at Boise. Temperatures averaged above normal on only five days.

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The low of 23 on the 10th eclipsed the old record for the date of 26 set in 1985.

The high of 35 on the 29th broke the previous record for the date of 37 set in 1991. It was also the coldest daily high temperature for so early in the season.

The low of 16 on the 30th tied the old record set in 1991. It was the coldest temperature since the 10 degrees on February 22, which was last winter’s low.

It was a dry month, tying 1965 as the 12th driest October in Boise Airport records. Measurable precipitation fell on only five days at Boise.

The unseasonable cold can be blamed on the persistent pattern of cold upper level low pressure troughs interspersed with cool northwest flow aloft.  The northwest flow was a result of a strong high pressure ridge off western North America, directing the storm track into Alaska.  Since most of the troughs came from northwest Canada and the cold waters of the Gulf of Alaska, they brought little moisture.

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There were a couple of exceptions to the predominately cold and dry weather.

On the 15th an upper level high pressure ridge built over the western U.S. and southwest Canada. As the ridge drifted east on the 16th, temperatures rose to summerlike values in southwest Idaho. Boise, Jerome, and Twin Falls all recorded highs of 80 degrees under warm southwest flow aloft.

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On the 19th a broad jet stream over the north Pacific pushed a fast-moving upper level trough inland across Idaho. There was enough moisture and energy with this system to generate thunderstorms with strong gusty winds. There were numerous reports of gusts over 50 mph. At some locations in the Magic Valley, including Twin Falls and Hazelton, gusts exceeded 60 mph.

Power poles were knocked down near Wendell and at Caldwell. Around 30 poles were knocked over along Highway 93 between Twin Falls and Jerome. At Kuna, several large trees were down, fences were blown over, cars were damaged, and power lines were down. Northeast of Boise in Ada County, lightning struck a house, causing a fire. Two people were injured.

And it snowed. McCall got 4 inches and Tamarack 6 inches. A spotter northeast of Featherville reported 7 inches that day.

Even more snow fell on the 20th.  Tamarack got an additional 4 inches, making their storm total 10 inches. Other storm totals in the mountains ranged from 6 inches at Mores Creek Summit to 12 inches at Atlanta Summit.

Real winter cold arrived at the end of the month.

Winter weather arrived very early during the final week of the month.  By the 26th northwest flow aloft had transported cooler air from British Columbia to southwest Idaho.  From the 26th through the 28th, A very cold upper level low pressure trough moved from north of Alaska through central Canada to the U.S. Border, causing the flow over western Canada to strengthen and shift into the north.  Arctic air was on the way.  The arctic front passed Boise around 4 am on the 29th. Behind the front, very cold high pressure centers moving south on both sides of the Rockies caused northwest and northeast surface winds to converge over the Snake River valley.

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The convergence zone approached Boise from the east later that morning, generating the first snow flurries of the season at the airport and in southeast Boise, while the sun shone on the rest of the city.  At the airport nearly half an inch of very dry snow briefly covered the ground.

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Temperatures stayed well below normal through the 31st.  Here are some record temperatures during the cold spell.

October 29: lows…Burns 1, Ontario 15, Baker City 6.

October 30: high…Boise 35 (coldest high temperature for the date and so early in the season) lows…Boise 16 (tied 1991), McCall 4 (tied 1991), Ontario 9, Mountain Home AFB 9, Jerome 8, Baker City 4

Below are graphics of mean temperature percentiles and departure from normal across the Pacific Northwest for October 2019.

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Idaho as a whole ranked as the coldest October on record.

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For more information about the U.S. Climate in October 2019, see Assessing the U.S. Climate in October 2019.

September 2019 Climate Statistics

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Unseasonably cool weather at the end of the month compensated for hot weather at the beginning and middle of the month, so the average temperature was exactly normal. Total precipitation was a quarter inch above normal.

It was wet nearly everywhere, with parts of Malheur County getting over three times normal precipitation.

Summer weather persisted through the first week of September, with a strong upper level high pressure ridge anchored over the western half of the nation.

A record high of 101 was set at Ontario on the 5th.

The 99 degrees on the 5th was the culmination of a streak of 9 consecutive days with highs over 90.

Airflow from the Desert Southwest brought enough monsoon moisture for isolated thunderstorms on the 5th and 6th. On the 6th, 0.15 inch of rain fell, exceeding our total summer rainfall by a hundredth of an inch.

Thunderstorms on the 5th was preceded by gusts over 55 mph near Swan Falls, in the Boise area, and at Glenns Ferry. In Boise, a microburst knocked down numerous trees from Broadway to Apple Street, some falling on houses. At Timberline High School fences were knocked down, and a batting cage was lifted over a baseball field fence and thrown into an adjacent parking lot.

On the 6th large tree branches were blown down near Buhl and at Glenns Ferry.

On the 8th a Pacific cold front dropped a third of an inch of rain at Boise. The .52 inch total at Mountain Home AFB set a record for the date.

On the 9th one-inch diameter hail fell at several locations near Twin Falls and Eden in Jerome County. Near Hansen in Twin Falls County 1.5 inch diameter hail was reported.

The upper level trough following the front kept temperatures a few degrees below normal through the 11th.

After the trough exited on the 12th, warm dry air south of the jet stream raised temperatures above normal. In the Treasure Valley the last 90-degree highs of the summer were recorded on the 14th and 15th. The 95 at Ontario on the 15th tied the record for the date set in 1956.

On the 16th an upper level trough from the Gulf of Alaska, followed by a second trough on the 19th, maintained cool showery weather through the 21st.

After the trough departed, temperatures were slightly above normal from the 22nd through the 27th.

During the early morning hours of the 28th, a strong cold front imported much cooler air from Alaska as a major upper level trough deepened over the northwest U.S. Temperatures averaged nearly 15 degrees below normal for the final three days of the month.

At Burns on the 30th the low of 23 tied the record set in 1981.

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August 2019 Climate Statistics

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Temperatures averaged slightly above normal. Measurable rain fell on 3 days, totaling 0.09 inch. August is normally the driest month of the year, averaging 0.24 inch.

Precipitation for June, July, and August totaled only .14 inch, making this the second driest summer on record at the airport.

A massive upper level high pressure ridge covering the west kept the first week of August hot. Temperatures at Boise topped out at 100 on the 5th and 101 on the 6th.

Southerly flow aloft brought enough monsoon moisture for light showers on the 2nd and again on the 8th, plus enough cloud cover on the 8th to prevent the temperature from reaching 90.

On the 9th and 10th, a low pressure trough which had resided off the West coast since late July moved inland. As the associated cold front interacted with the monsoon moisture, it triggered thunderstorms which produced light but measurable precipitation and gusty outflow winds. A gust of 40 mph was measured at the airport on
The 9th.

With a high of only 78, the 11th was the coolest day of the month, thanks to the north Pacific air which accompanied the trough.

Following the trough, highs were back in the 90s from the 13th through the 15th, and dry westerly flow aloft blocked monsoon moisture from invading southwest Idaho.

On the 16th and 17th, a weak cold front trailing south from a low pressure system over Canada lowered temperatures a few degrees.

The high pressure ridge expanded north again, and highs were in the 90s from the 18th through the 21st.

On the 22nd and 23rd, a Pacific cold front, followed by an upper Level low pressure trough from the the Gulf of Alaska, brought a trace of rain and kept highs from exceeding the 80s. A dry cold front followed on the 25th, keeping temperatures below normal through the 26th.

A warming trend commenced on the 27th as the high pressure ridge rebuilt and persisted through the end of the month, with temperatures around 10 degrees above normal.

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July 2019 Climate Statistics

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The average temperature for the month was less than one degree above
normal. No temperature records were broken, but the low of 76 on the
23rd tied the record high low for that date set in 1994.

At the airport, the only triple digit high was the 102 on the 22nd.
The normal for July is 4 days of 100 or higher. The normal for
summer (June-August) is 7. Last summer had 14, with 9 in July and
the rest in August, including the 110 on August 10.

Only 0.01 inch of rain fell at the National Weather Service office in Boise,
which ranks in the driest 15 percent of Julys.

July and August are normally the driest months, averaging 0.33 inch
and 0.24 inch respectively.

As is common at this time of year, upper level troughs from the
north Pacific weakened as they encountered the strong summer high
pressure ridge over the western U.S. The ridge diverted these
systems too far north to bring measurable rain to the Boise area.

Upper-level winds were usually from the southwest, with enough
westerly component to shunt monsoon moisture east before it reached
the Treasure Valley. When it did manage to drift this far north and
west, it usually brought only cloud cover, which hindered the
heating that drives convection, so only a few sprinkles resulted.

Weak cold fronts accompanying the Pacific systems were followed by
slightly cooler and much drier air. For example, the afternoon
humidity dropped to 7 percent on the 19th and 8 percent on the 24th
after frontal passages. On the other days minimum humidities were in
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June 2019 Climate Statistics

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It was the second driest June at the Boise Airport, where records go back to 1940. It was the fourth driest June at all Boise locations going back to 1864. Measurable rain fell on only two days.

The average temperature for the month was very close to normal.

June began with above normal temperatures, with highs in the 80s under an upper level high pressure ridge.

On the 7th a pacific cold front, followed by an upper level low pressure trough, brought a brief break in the warm weather. Highs were only in the lower 60s on the 7th and 8th.

By the 10th temperatures had risen above normal again as another high pressure ridge began to build over the west coast. Highs were in the 80s from the 10th through the 19th, with the exception of the 91 on the 12th. That was the first 90 degree reading since September 7.

Following the 80 degrees on the 19th, much cooler air spread south following a cold front as an upper level trough deepened over southwest Canada and the northwest U.S. Highs were only in the mid 60s on the 20th and 21st.

After a chilly 42 degree low on the 22nd, temperatures began a slow recovery as the trough exited to the east. By the 25th milder west-southwest flow aloft had returned temperatures to near normal.

On the 26th an upper level trough from the Gulf of Alaska had arrived off the Washington-Oregon coast. Coming from the cold waters of the northeast Pacific, it contained little moisture.

Ahead of the trough, southwest flow aloft helped the temperature warm to 89 on the 26th.

As the trough edged further east that day, thunderstorms developed in northeast Oregon along a weak cold front. But they never got as far as Boise, and that night the front produced no precipitation as it crossed southwest Idaho.

The trough gradually weakened and moved offshore. It continued to have little effect on our area, although on the 28th a stationary band of dense high clouds prevented temperatures from rising above the lower 70s.

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May 2019 Climate Statistics

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It was the wettest May since 2005, and the 6th wettest on record, with a total of 3.98 inches. In addition, the period from January 1 through May 31 is the wettest on record at the Boise Airport, at 12.07 inches. It ranks in second place for the entire period of record in the Boise area (behind 1896 at 14.27 inches), and even exceeds Boise’s average annual precipitation of 11.73 inches.

No rain fell during the first two weeks of the month. During the rest of the month most days had measurable rain.

Northwest flow aloft kept temperatures below normal for the first two days of the month. A warming trend began on the 3rd as a warm upper level high pressure ridge centered offshore began to extend its influence inland. The ridge kept our area warm and dry as it moved inland over the next several days. By the 15th it was east of the Rockies, and a Pacific cold front was approaching.

Unseasonably cool and wet weather followed the front on the 16th as an upper level trough settled over the inter mountain region, where it remained for the rest of the month. The moist and unstable air provided favorable conditions for daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms, some of which produced locally heavy showers.

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Record February Precipitation in 2019

February 2019 precipitation ranged 200-300% of normal across southern and central Idaho, southeast Washington, and across eastern Oregon. Several places recorded their February precipitation record.

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McCall set the all-time precipitation record for February at 7.57″ (normal 2.42″). McCall set the all-time snowfall record for Feb at 74.0″ (normal 22.5″), the most in Feb since 1975 when 70.0″ fell. Records began in 1906. Courtesy of COOP observer.

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Boise set the all-time precipitation record for February at 3.71″ (Normal is 0.99″). Boise received 11.6″ of snow in February, the most in February since 1949 when 25.2″ fell. Records began in 1877.

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Baker City, OR and Ontario, OR both broke their all-time February records for precipitation. Burns, OR came in at 4th most all-time for February.

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Mores Creek Summit and Bogus Basin snow surveys reported the biggest change in snow depth and snow water equivalent in February since records began in 1942. 360-370% of normal.

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September 2018 Climate Statistics

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With only a trace of rain, September 2018 was one of the driest Septembers on record. There were only 9 others with no measurable precipitation in 152 years of Boise area records, and only 5 others in 78 years of airport records.

Total precipitation for the four months from June through September was only 0.36 inch. June-September periods with so little precipitation are unusual, but not unique. For example:

1994 .44
1901 .39
1898 .37
2018 .36
1957 .31
2012 .31
1933 .27
1966 .27
1935 .19

Temperatures averaged only slightly above normal.  September began with near normal temperatures under dry westerly flow aloft. The flow backed into the southwest on the 5th as a high-pressure ridge built over the northern Rockies. This resulted in the last 90-degree highs of the summer on the 5th, 6th, and 7th.

A cooling trend commenced on the 8th as an upper-level low-pressure trough from the Gulf of Alaska approached the British Columbia Coast. As the trough edged closer, a dry cold front passed Boise on the 10th, followed by cooler north Pacific air. Highs were only in the low 70s from the 11th through the 13th.

The trough remained parked over the west coast through the 18th, keeping temperatures a few degrees below normal. It finally moved inland on the 19th, then continued east out of our area on the 20th.

Brief warming followed on the 21st and 22nd, with highs in the low 80s, but another north Pacific trough was on the way.

Rather than stalling over the coast, this trough continued on an eastward track, pushed along by a building upper-level high-pressure ridge offshore. The trough was east of our area on the 24th. Like its predecessors, it produced no rain in the Boise area.

East of the ridge, northwest flow aloft over the Pacific Northwest states kept temperatures 5 to 10 degrees below normal, with highs of only 69 on the 24th and 25th, the first highs in the 60s since June 17. The low of 38 on the 24th was the first low in the 30s since May 2.

As the eastern portion of the ridge edged inland, warmer air raised temperatures above normal from the 27th through the 29th, with highs in the low 80s.

During that time, an upper-level low was drifting slowly eastward toward California. By the morning of the 30th, it was centered over the Oregon-northern California coast. Its only effect on Boise was a few clouds and slightly cooler temperatures.

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