2018 Idaho Water Year Summary

Overview:

The 2018 Water Year was pretty good for Idaho overall. The hydrologic system was still benefiting from the extreme moisture received the previous year which provided excellent reservoir carryover and above normal streamflow through the fall and winter.  

Precipitation patterns favored northern Idaho and portions of the Upper Snake Basin in eastern Idaho, resulting in normal or above normal precipitation for these regions. By winter’s end, basin snowpack percentages for these areas were around 120 percent of median. Large snowpacks in adjacent areas of British Columbia and western Montana helped set the stage for spring flooding across the Panhandle region.  In contrast, precipitation was subpar for much of southern Idaho with some locations receiving only 50 to 70 percent of normal. The Owyhee Basin in far southwest Idaho had the lowest snowpack percentage in the state at 45 percent of median.

Dry and very warm conditions through the summer brought a return of drought conditions to the Panhandle region while drought conditions expanded near the Nevada and Utah border.  Streamflows fell below normal in a number of basins from late spring through summer as very dry weather persisted.

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Temperature:

Mean temperatures for the 2018 Water Year were above normal for almost the entire state. The southern half of Idaho, particularly the higher elevations, experienced the greatest anomalies with much of the area in the top 10 percentile.

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Fall and winter temperatures were normal or slightly below normal for the northern half of Idaho. Meanwhile, fall temperatures across the southern half of Idaho had a warm tendency. Springtime brought above normal temperatures to the entire state which spurred a strong snowmelt runoff for northern Idaho and portions of eastern Idaho. Summertime temperatures were generally around normal across the northern half of the state while southern Idaho experienced above normal temperatures.

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The storm track favored northern and central Idaho during the first quarter of the 2018 Water year resulting in normal to above normal fall precipitation across the northern half of the state.  Most of southern Idaho wasn’t as fortunate and started the water year off rather dry. Precipitation patterns continued to favor northern and central Idaho along with much of eastern Idaho during the winter and early spring. This served to build a healthy snowpack in these areas and set the stage for a good runoff season.  Across southwest Idaho winter precipitation lagged considerably which raised concerns for drought and agricultural water supply. By the end of June, hot and dry weather typical of summer settled in across the state and very little precipitation was received through the remainder of the water year.

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Although a small percentage of annual precipitation occurs during the summer, it was an exceptionally dry period across the state. Almost all of Idaho was in the bottom 10 percentile for July through September precipitation and many areas experienced near-record dryness. For example, Lewiston experienced its 6th driest July through September on record.

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Snowpack:

By late winter a robust snowpack accumulated across northern Idaho, portions of the Upper Snake Basin in eastern Idaho, and adjacent areas of western Montana and British Columbia.  In contrast, much of south-central and southwest Idaho missed out on a lot of the winter storms resulting in a subpar snowpack, especially near the Utah and Nevada border. By early April, when Idaho’s overall snowpack typically peaks, basin percentages were around 120 percent of median from the Panhandle region south across the Clearwater Basin, and across portions of the Upper Snake Basin. In south-central and southwest Idaho, snowpack percentages dropped off to around 70 percent of median or less. The Owyhee Basin had the lowest early April percentage at 47 percent of median.

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Streamflow:

2017 set the stage for the 2018 runoff season. With the exception of a couple basins, streamflows for the 2018 Water Year started strong and were normal to much above normal through the fall, winter, and spring. Abundant water in the hydrologic system kept water flowing in some streams that are typically dry during the fall and winter, such as lower reaches of the Big Lost River in eastern Idaho.  Rapid melting of the large snowpack and full reservoir systems pushed spring snowmelt flows to much above normal for portions of the Panhandle, Central Mountains, and upper Snake River regions. As a result, spring flooding occurred across portions of the state, especially the Panhandle region. Despite the strong spring runoff for much of Idaho, streamflows fell below normal in many basins from late spring through summer.

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Reservoirs:

Reservoir storage got a head start due to excellent carryover from the previous water year and most major reservoir systems were able to fill.  Large snowpack in British Columbia, western Montana, and northern Idaho resulted in near-record or record high runoff prompting large flood control releases on some river systems. Even in parts of southwest Idaho where lower snowpack resided, large reservoir releases were necessary to accommodate high snowmelt inflows. As the irrigation season hit full stride reservoir systems were drawn down near a normal pace and ended the water year with near average carryover for the next water year.

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Drought:

Abundant fall precipitation erased drought conditions during early stages of the 2018 Water Year. However, above normal temperatures, subpar snowpack, and limited spring rains across the south allowed drought to creep back into the picture by late spring over southwest Idaho.  As has been the trend in recent years, above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation dominated through the summer. This allowed drought to expand across southern Idaho into the West Central Mountains as well as the Panhandle Region.

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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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June 2018 Climate Statistics

June`s average temperature was one degree above normal, giving a ranking of 23rd warmest in the 79 years of Boise Airport records. Highs reached or exceeded 90 degrees on 6 days, which is exactly normal for June. There were no record highs or lows.

It was a month of changeable temperatures, owing to a procession of upper level troughs and ridges from the north Pacific. Highs ranged from 63°F on the 17th to 94°F on the 25th.

It was one of the drier Junes, with only a quarter inch of precipitation. Along with June 1957, it ranks 20th driest at the Boise Airport.

Measurable rain fell on only four days: the 7th, 9th, 17th, and 18th. With the exception of the 17th, rainfall totals were under a tenth of an inch.

On the 14th a trough from the Gulf of Alaska stalled over the northwest states. Cooler air aloft flowing into the trough from western Canada caused it to intensify, and it strengthened further as it entrained moisture from east of the Rockies. On the 17th, 0.13 inch of rain fell at the airport, but much heavier amounts were reported in northern and eastern Idaho and portions of the central Idaho mountains between the 16th and 18th.

Strong winds were observed on three occasions early in the month. At 7:30 pm on the 3rd, outflow from a shower ahead of a strong cold front produced a gust of 53 mph from the south, resulting in blowing dust reducing visibilities. At 6:25 pm on the 7th, outflow from a thunderstorm gusted to 41 mph from the southeast, accompanied by brief moderate rain. And at 12:50 pm on the 9th, a gust of 43 mph from the northwest followed another strong cold front.

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April 2018 Climate Statistics

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April was characterized by changing weather patterns. Migrating high pressure ridges and low pressure troughs at upper levels brought alternating periods of above and below normal temperatures, but overall there was a gradual warming trend, and the monthly average was slightly above normal.

Most precipitation fell during the first 16 days of the month, when half the days had measurable rain. The final 14 days were dry, except for a couple of trace events. As a whole, April was slightly drier than normal.

The first half of the month also saw three strong wind events. Boise fared somewhat better than the surrounding region, where there was local damage, as winds in the Treasure Valley weren`t quite as strong.

On the 2nd a rapidly moving upper level trough from the Gulf of Alaska crossed our area. It was accompanied by a strong jet stream, and a thunderstorm which dropped small hail on some parts of the Treasure Valley.  Some of the jet energy reached the surface as the cold front came through, producing a gust of 49 mph at the airport.

On the 7th another cold front crossed the Boise area, propelled rapidly inland by an initially strong upper level trough approaching the Washington coast.  The front triggered thunderstorms, one of which generated a gust of 55 mph from the northwest at the airport.  Over a quarter inch of rain was measured with this storm. The trough itself faded out as it progressed inland.

On the 12th a deeper, colder trough moved over our area. Two tenths of an inch of snow fell at the airport, but it melted quickly.

On the 16th an even deeper trough pushed inland, accompanied by a quarter inch of rain and a trace of snow.  That system was followed by a more settled, warmer period, with temperatures near or above normal from the 19th through the 28th. On the morning of the 18th another weather system was poised just off the northwest coast, but instead of heading for Boise, it went south to California on the 19th then east over the Colorado plateau on the 20th.

Our area was dominated by high pressure from the 20th through the 27th.  On the 27th the temperature maxed out at 90°F, two degrees shy of the record.

The early taste of summer was ended by a cold front on the 28th, followed by a slow moving upper level trough on the 29th.  The combination of cold air aloft and surface heating in the trough created instability which triggered convective showers but only traces of rain at the Boise Airport. The trough remained on the 30th and was expected to linger a few more days.

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Interested in measuring precipitation? Join the CoCoRaHS observing network.

Join CoCoRaHS Today!cocorahs

CoCoRaHS is a practical, enjoyable and useful activity. If you have an interest in weather and would like to help your local community, as well as scientists and others interested in precipitation, then CoCoRaHS is for you. It only takes a few minutes a day and gives you the chance to participate in real hands-on science. You’ll be amazed at what you learn as you become more aware of the variable weather that impacts you, your neighbors, your state and our entire country.

Data on the web

Volunteers submit their observations using the CoCoRaHS website or apps. Observations are immediately available to the public via maps and data analysis tools, and to data users via the CoCoRaHS Web API. Data users such as scientists, resource manages, decision makers and others have come to rely on the high density, high quality measurements provided by CoCoRaHS observers.

CoCoRaHS is Educational

CoCoRaHS offers learning opportunities too. In addition to training materials, newsletters and the ‘Message of the Day’, members also enjoy opportunities to attend Webinars featuring experts in weather, climatology and other pertinent disciplines. CoCoRaHS offers classroom resources for K-12 teachers. Students get to collect and submit real scientific data – all while meeting State and National Standards in science, math, geography and more!

What is CoCoRaHS?

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, is a non-profit, community based, network of volunteers who measure and report rain, hail and snow in their backyards.

A brief History

CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colorado in July 1997. A very localized storm dumped over a foot of rain in several hours while other portions of the city had only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise, caused $200 million in damages, and resulted in five deaths. CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and reporting intense storms. CoCoRaHS became a nationwide volunteer network in 2010 and is now international with observers helping provide critical precipitation observations, benefiting their country’s needs.

Volunteers of all ages welcome!

Individuals and family volunteers of all ages and all walks of life are the foundation of the CoCoRaHS network, Anyone can help. It only takes a few minutes to check the rain gauge and report your observations.

Training: “the Key to our success”

It is important that all CoCoRaHS precipitation reports be accurate and consistant. Training is provided on how to install gauges, properly measure precipitation and transmit reports. CoCoRaHS precipitation reports are accurate and very useful.

Why is there so much interest in rain, hail and snow?

Precipitation is essential for life. It varies greatly with topography, storm type and season. It really is true that it may pour on one side of the street and be dry on the other. A portion of a field may be pounded by hail while others nearby receive no damage. Snowfall may pile up in one neighborhood and only dust another. Rain, hail and snow are fairly easy to measure, and the data collected are very important. Meteorologists, hydrologists, engineers, builders, farmers . . . you name it, everyone seems to care about rain, hail and snow. That’s why we ask, “How much fell in your backyard?” There are limited observations across southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, compared to the rest of the country, so we would love to have your observations. To learn more about the CoCoRaHS program and to see where your fellow observers have recorded rain amounts, visit http://www.cocorahs.org/.

Invite your neighbors, relatives and friends by sending them this “Join” link: http://www.cocorahs.org/application.aspx

March 2018 Climate Statistics

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The changeable weather of March 2018 was typical of late winter and early spring. The progression of low pressure troughs and high pressure ridges brought alternating periods of warm and cold temperatures, yielding a close-to-normal average. There were no record highs or lows.

Episodes of active weather and moderate precipitation occurred as each trough and its accompanying cold front entered our area.

The 0.54 inch rainfall on the 14th tied the record for the date set in 1927. The 1.89 inches for the month was 0.50 inch above normal and ranks in the wettest 20 percent of Marchs at the airport, and the wettest 25 percent at all Boise locations.

Snowfall for the month was 2.6 inches, mostly falling on the morning of the 25th. The monthly normal is 1.3 inches.

The first four days of March were dominated by an upper level trough which brought cold temperatures but little precipitation. The 23°F on the 4th was the low for the month.

Temperatures rose above normal on the 8th as an upper level ridge began to build over the region.

The ridge reached its maximum amplitude on the 12th, allowing temperatures to rise into the low 60s. As the ridge began to exit, southerly flow ahead of the next upstream trough pushed the temperature to 69°F on the 13th, the high for the month.

The trough sent a strong cold front inland, and convective showers ahead of the front were preceded by northwest winds gusting over 30 mph. When the showers reached the Boise airport just after 4 am, moderate rain began and persisted for about an hour before tapering off and ending. The trough drifted slowly inland on the 16th and 17th, preventing temperatures from rising above the upper 40s on those days.

The last weather maker of the month was another strong upper level trough which stalled off the coast of British Columbia on the 22nd.  This trough extended far enough south to tap subtropical moisture.

Like its predecessor, moderate rain preceded the cold front on the afternoon of the 22nd. The front passed the airport at about 7:30 pm, accompanied by the first thunderstorm of the spring season.  The strongest convection and heaviest rain stayed west and north of Boise.

As the trough moved inland and weakened on the 25th, it produced the last measurable precipitation of the month, falling as 2.1 inches of snow. The cold north pacific air was responsible for a high of only 45°F that day, the chilliest maximum since the start of spring.

Following this system, west-northwest flow aloft returned temperatures to near normal from the 28th through the 31st.

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February 2018 Climate Stats

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February 2018 can be described as three seasons in one month.

It began with early spring. The 1st through the 9th had the same average temperature as the last half of a normal march. The 59°F on the 2nd tied the record for the date set in 1881. The 61°F on the 3rd eclipsed the old record of 60°F  in 1953.

Temperatures from the 10th  through the 18th were near normal for late winter.

It was back to mid-winter from the 19th through the 28th, which averaged colder than a normal December.

The average temperature for the entire month was deceptively close to normal.

February is usually the driest winter month at Boise. This February had only 56 percent of normal precipitation, despite heavier than average snowfall. Measurable precipitation fell on only 4 days.

Snowfall totaled 7.4 inches, over twice the normal 2.8 inches. There was at least patchy snow cover each day during the last week of the month. The 4.9 inch snowfall on the 22nd set a record for the date.  The old record was 4 inches in 1912. The greatest snow depth at the Boise Airport was 5 inches on the 22nd.

A warm upper level high pressure ridge off the coast was responsible for the spring-like weather from the 1st through the 9th. It also kept most of the precipitation associated with Pacific weather systems east of our area.

The ridge gradually shifted west, allowing northwest flow aloft to transport cooler but not unseasonably cold air into the Intermountain region from the 10th through the 18th.  One weather system embedded in the flow was strong enough to bring Boise a quarter inch of precipitation on the 14th, including half an inch of snow.

The ridge continued to drift west as a very cold upper level trough deepened over western Canada. Strong northerly flow on the west side of an upper level low over Hudson Bay pushed the trough south of the border. The cold front ahead of the trough passed Boise at about 9 pm on the 17th. Following the front, the wind increased from the northwest, and a peak gust of 43 mph was recorded at the airport just after midnight.

Temperatures initially were not unseasonably cold, but by the 19th modified arctic air had begun to filter into the Treasure Valley, while the true arctic front was stalled in the central Idaho mountains.

Although the coldest air stayed well to our north and east, clear skies, light winds, and very dry air allowed the temperature to drop into the single digits in the Boise area by sunrise on the 20th. The low of 9°F at the airport was the coldest since the 8 degrees on December 24, 2017.

The cold pattern persisted through the end of the month, with a deep upper level trough anchored over the western U.S. and western Canada. Temperatures remained unseasonably cold, and weather disturbances moving into the trough from Alaska brought periods of snow.

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Idaho Spring Flood and Water Resources Outlook

The potential for spring flooding due to snowmelt is slightly elevated for portions of eastern and north central Idaho. The spring flood risk for the rest of the state is average to below average. SWE-2-12

Good soil moisture recharge from autumn rains and well above average reservoir storage has resulted in a slightly elevated threat of spring flooding along the mainstem Snake River in eastern Idaho, and along smaller tributaries above Idaho Falls. Spring flood risk is also slightly elevated in the Clearwater Basin which is currently holding one of the greatest snowpack percentages in the state. Elsewhere, the absence of low elevation snow and areas of below average mid elevation snow suggest an average or below average spring flood threat.

The primary factors in the development of spring flooding are the occurrence of persistent above normal temperatures, and rain on snow precipitation events. Even for areas that have low snowpack, spring flooding is possible under the right scenario. Additionally, wildfire burn scars can have a significant impact on local flood potential during spring snowmelt.

Precipitation and Temperature

As of early February, Water Year precipitation was near normal or above normal for the Panhandle, Spokane, Clearwater, and Salmon Basins, as well as the Upper Snake Basin near the Wyoming border. The Clearwater Basin had the greatest anomalies at 130 to 150 percent of  average. Aside from the Snake River headwaters region, Water Year  precipitation across southern Idaho stood at 60 to 80 percent of  average with south side Snake River Basins having the lowest  percentages.  Average temperatures for the Water Year have been above average for almost the entire state, especially across southern Idaho. 1

 

Snowpack

As of February 12, the highest snowpack percentages in the state were 114 and 116 percent of median in the Clearwater Basin and the Upper Snake above Palisades. Percentages were 91 to 107 percent of median for basins along the Montana border in eastern Idaho, and the Salmon, Spokane, and Panhandle Basins. Elsewhere in south central and southeast Idaho the snowpack was 57 to 81 percent of median, decreasing to 33 to 49 percent of median in the Owyhee and Bruneau Basins in southwest Idaho. Daily snowpack readings indicate record low levels for a handful of SNOTEL locations in southern Idaho.  Mountain snowpack in Idaho typically builds through March. Early April snow conditions will be pivotal to water supply conditions through the summer.  23

Reservoirs

Reservoir storage across Idaho is in good shape. Major reservoir systems across the northern half of the state were holding near average or above average storage as of February 1. Across the southern half of the state, with the exception of Brownlee at 85 percent and Mann Creek at 45 percent of average, most major projects had well above average storage which is great news considering the below average snowpack in many basins. Weather patterns, irrigation demand, and flood control needs will drive reservoir operations over the next several months. Wet spring weather or extended periods of above normal temperatures resulting in rapid snowmelt could result in significant increases in reservoir outflows and river levels.

Drought

After record setting precipitation and snowpack last year, abnormally dry conditions have returned to portions of west central and southern Idaho. Weather and precipitation for the remainder of winter and this spring will determine whether or not conditions improve or deteriorate for areas experiencing short term dryness. Good reservoir carryover will help ease drought concerns for those served by major storage projects.

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Long Range Outlook

The outlook through the end of February favors below normal temperatures and normal or below normal precipitation for the state. The outlook for March, April, and May favors below normal temperatures for the Panhandle, and above normal temperatures across far southern Idaho. The precipitation outlook for March, April, and May slightly favors wetter than normal conditions for the Panhandle, but does not shift the probabilities one way or another for the rest of the state.

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Water Supply Forecast

National Weather Service April through September water supply volume forecasts vary from 90 to 135 percent of average for most of the central Idaho mountains and north across the Clearwater and Panhandle regions. In southern Idaho, forecasts for the Big Lost Basin, the mainstem Snake River and tributaries above American Falls range from 80 to 125 percent of average, with the exception of Willow Creek near Ririe with a forecast of 38 percent of average. Forecasts for the rest of southern Idaho range from 39 to 73 percent of average with the lowest percentages in southwest Idaho. These forecasts may change considerably over the next couple of months since seasonal snow accumulation and rainfall typically occur during February, March, and April.

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Online Resources

Water Supply Volume Forecasts…
National Weather Service-Northwest River Forecast Center www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/ws/

National Weather Service-Colorado Basin River Forecast Center
www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/id/snow/

Snowpack Information…

National Weather Service-Northwest River Forecast Center
www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow/

National Weather Service-National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center
www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/id/snow/

Reservoir Storage…
Bureau of Reclamation Reservoir Storage
www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/select.html

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/basin.html

Drought Information…
U.S. Drought Portal
www.drought.gov

U.S. Drought Monitor
www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

National Drought Mitigation Center
www.drought.unl.edu/

Peak Flow Forecasts…
Northwest River Forecast Center
www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/peak/

Colorado Basin River Forecast Center
www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/rmap/peak/peaklist.php

Temperature and Precipitation Outlook…
Climate Prediction Center
www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

January 2018 Climate Stats

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January 2018 was the fourth warmest on record at the Boise Airport.  For all Boise locations it tied January 1914 for sixth place. The monthly average of 37.8 degrees was 6.5 degrees above normal, and it even exceeded February’s normal of 36.5 degrees. Only the first four days of the month were below normal.

It is noteworthy that, prior to this year, the top five warmest Januarys at the airport occurred during El Niño winters, and three of those were strong El Niños.  January 2018 didn’t fit the pattern, as a weak La Niña was in effect.

There were two record highs, each occurring ahead of strong cold fronts. The 58°F on the 18th and the 59°F on the 30th broke the previous daily records of 57°F in 1998 and 56°F in 1992.

The unusually mild temperatures resulted from a combination of a progressive pattern and a persistent warm upper level high pressure ridge over the Western U.S.

Westerly flow aloft brought mild moist Pacific weather systems inland across the northern intermountain region, temporarily displacing the ridge, which always managed to rebuild. The active pattern hindered the formation of temperatures inversions and blocked invasions of cold air from western Canada.

Precipitation totaled 1.36 inches, close to the January normal of 1.39 inches. Most of it fell during two episodes.

On the 9th a cold front produced nearly half an inch of rain at the Boise Airport.  During the afternoon of the 19th another cold front generated nearly a quarter inch of rain. The upper level low pressure trough which followed the front brought an additional two tenths of an inch of rain.

On the 30th the last cold front of the month passed the airport at 1:40 pm MST, with a wind gust of 34 mph from the northwest, but no precipitation.

The only measurable snowfall was 0.1 inch on the 25th. The total for January 2017 was 21.5 inches. Normal is 5.1 inches.  There have been Januarys with less snow. Only traces fell in 1934, 1961, and 2003.

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McCall, Idaho recorded its 4th warmest January on record in 2018.  Daily average minimum temperatures in January 2018 averaged 21.4°F, 3rd warmest on record.

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Burns, Oregon recorded their 6th warmest January on record in 2018.

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Baker City, Oregon had their 3rd warmest January on record in 2018.  Average maximum temperatures reached 42.9°F, tied for the warmest on record in January since records began in 1928.

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Jerome, Idaho had their 3rd warmest January on record since 1916.  Two record highs were set in the month of January.  Average minimum temperatures tied for the second warmest on record in January at 28.5°F.

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Ontario, Oregon had their 4th warmest January on record.  A daily record high temperature of 54°F was recorded on January 12.

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With the upper level high pressure ridge over the Great Basin,the storm track was directed to the north across British Columbia, Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana, leading to warmer than normal temperatures.

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December 2017 Climate Stats

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Temperature inversions plagued the Treasure Valley most of the month, resulting in below normal temperatures at Boise on all but eight days. Although it ranked among the coldest 25 percent of Decembers since airport records began in 1940, it averaged 5 degrees warmer than December 2016.

A persistent high pressure ridge kept the Boise area dry through much of the month. Precipitation was nearly half an inch below normal, and half the December 2016 total.

The month started out fairly mild under west-southwest flow aloft ahead of an upper level low pressure trough. The trough crossed the Boise area on the 3rd, bringing the largest one-day precipitation of the month, mainly in the form of rain.

As this system exited to the east, an upper level high pressure ridge built offshore and expanded inland.

By the 5th an inversion had become established in the Treasure Valley, and temperatures remained below freezing from the 7th through the 15th.

On the 16th an upper level trough destabilized the atmosphere enough to break the inversion, and temperatures continued to warm as the upper level flow shifted into the west and southwest in advance of tet another upper level trough. The 19th and 20th were the warmest days of the month, with highs of 52 and 51.

By the 21st the trough had moved east of our area. It was followed by moist northwest flow aloft and a cold front which brought snow totaling 6 inches on the 22nd and 23rd. The accumulation of 5 inches was the first measurable snow cover since February 4.

A combination of modified arctic air, overnight clearing, fresh snow cover, and calm winds caused the airport temperature to fall to 8 degrees by sunrise on the 24th, the coldest reading since the 7 degrees on January 18.

More snow was on the way. It started at about 4 pm Christmas eve as a warm front approached from the west. By Christmas morning 3 inches of new snow had fallen.

Warming continued at higher elevations, ensuring that cold air would remain trapped in the valley for a few more days.

On the 30th a cold front passed through the area. It was felt as a warm front in the valley, as colder air aloft behind the front broke the inversion, allowing the airport temperature to climb to 43 degrees that afternoon.

On the 31st strong high pressure provided mostly clear skies.  Although a shallow inversion had formed overnight, the sun warmed the surface enough during the day to mix the air, and temperatures around Boise warmed into the 35-40 degree range.

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Precipitation across much of southern Idaho and Oregon was well below normal as a persistent upper level high pressure led to an inversion with cool conditions in the valleys and warm conditions in the mountains.