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.

July 2020 Climate

The temperature, when averaged across the area, was slightly above normal. The greatest departures were at Baker City (+3.5 degrees), McCall (+2.5 degrees), and Rome (+2.1 degrees).
July 2020 temperature
Precipitation was below normal nearly everywhere. July is one of the two driest months of the year (the other being August), so dry is actually normal.
July 2020 precipitation
During most of the month, upper-level low pressure troughs moving inland over western Canada would play a role in our weather, as they vied for dominance with the very warm seasonal upper-level high pressure ridge over the southwest U.S.

Precipitation is usually associated with troughs, but during July they produced little if any rain south of the Canadian border, bringing only brief periods of slightly cooler weather.

Between troughs, the high pressure ridge to our south made its presence felt as it expanded northward.

Increasing amounts of monsoon moisture circulating within the ridge eventually managed to reach our area on the 22nd and 23rd, and again on the 27th and 28th, carried north ahead of weak low pressure troughs over California.

On the 23rd, thunderstorms brought locally strong gusty winds. At Rome, numerous tree branches were blown down and garbage cans were knocked over. A gust of 64 mph was measured 21 miles north of Murphy Hot Springs. Numerous other locations reported gusts in excess of 50 mph.

On the evening of the 28th, thunderstorms crossed the Owyhee Mountains, bringing spotty but locally heavy showers to the Boise area.

The ridge made a major northward expansion on the 30th and 31st, bringing the hottest weather of the summer.

At Baker City on the 30th, the high temperature of 101 tied the daily record set in 2003. And the 105 on the 31st set a new record for the date.

On the 31st at Burns, the high of 99 tied the record set in 1949. At Ontario, the high of 107 tied the record set in 1971.


Pocatello tied their all time record high temperature of 104 degrees as well.

 

 

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).

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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

April 2020 Climate Statistics

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Precipitation was near normal, and temperatures averaged slightly warmer than normal.

A cold upper level low pressure trough over western Canada and the Northwest states during the first three days of the month held temperatures below normal.

Southwest flow aloft ahead of a low pressure trough off the Pacific Northwest coast started a warming trend on the 4th.  As the trough moved south along the California coast on the 5th and 6th, showers spread inland, but the Boise area received only light precipitation.  The air was unstable enough for thunderstorms both days.

With our area between the low pressure system over the southwest states and the jet stream to our north and east, weak high pressure kept temperatures above normal from the 5th through the 11th.

A cool down was on the way as the flow over western Canada shifted into the north on the east flank of a high pressure ridge off the west coast of North America.

A cold front from British Columbia passed Boise during the evening of the 11th, accompanied by a wind gust of 45 mph from the north.  Temperatures the following day were 10 to 15 degrees cooler, and temperatures stayed below normal through the 14th.

Boise fared better than eastern Idaho, and much better than states to the east, where a late season arctic outbreak brought snow and winter temperatures.

After a brief warmup on the 15th, another cold front from British Columbia crossed the Boise area that evening. Compared to the previous front, the cool down was minor.  A convergence zone in the Snake River Basin near Mountain Home created show showers on the morning of the 16th.

A warming trend began on the 17th as the high pressure ridge began to move inland from the coast.

Increasing westerly flow aloft gradually weakened the ridge, and on the 22nd and 23rd a disturbance embedded in the flow brought the largest amount of precipitation for the month. Most of it fell on the 23rd with scattered convective showers, some of which produced brief heavy rain and small hail.

On the 25th and 27th a couple of weak disturbances dropped most of their precipitation over north Idaho, with only light showers at Boise.

On the 28th a strong high pressure ridge developed over the western U.S. as it amplified and drifted east, it provided the season’s warmest weather so far.

On the 29th strong southwest flow aloft on the west flank of the ridge, down valley flow at the surface, and mostly sunny skies helped boost the temperature at Boise to 88 degrees, one degree shy of the record set in 1992. Severe thunderstorms containing 1″ hail were reported in Baker City.

On the 30th the southwest flow carried an energetic weather disturbance across southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho. Late that morning a line of thunderstorms formed over Harney County.  The storms intensified rapidly as they approached Idaho. They crossed the border at about 1:45 pm, and strong outflow ahead of the storms arrived at the Boise airport at 2:30 pm.  Five minutes later a gust of 61 mph was measured just ahead of the rain, which was heavy at times.  Golf-ball size hail (1.75″) was reported at Oreana, ID (40 miles southwest of Boise).

 

The winds were likely stronger in some parts of town, as there were reports of power outages, downed trees, and other damage. Large trees across the Treasure Valley toward the Boise Mountains and Magic Valley were knocked down as a result of this storm.  Numerous large trees were knocked down from Prairie to Pine to Featherville with this storm.

 

Here are the rest of the climate graphics for southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon.  McCall was cooler than average due to a deep snow pack on the ground within the valley, which kept their temperatures lower than other areas.

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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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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.

https://twitter.com/NWSBoise/status/1186319069416280064?s=20

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.