Winter 2020-2021 in Review

December

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January

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

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

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

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

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January

February

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

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

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

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

November 2020 Weather Summary

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


November temperature anomaly
November precipitation departure

October 2020 Weather Statistics

October was generally warmer than normal when temperatures for the entire month were averaged. But that average gives no indication of the extremes.
October precipitation departureOctober temperature anomaly
As in September, precipitation was below normal.
From the 1st through the 9th, the ridge kept temperatures around 10 degrees above normal. As in September, smoke and haze kept highs from achieving their full potential.
On the 2nd, the high of 87 at Ontario tied their record for the date. And on the 3rd, the high of 87 at Burns set a new record for the date. On the 4th, the high of 85 at Twin Falls set a new daily record.
On the 10th, strong westerly flow aloft flattened the ridge as it carried a cold front inland from the northwest coast. As it crossed southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho, the front routed the smoke as it pushed east. Rain which followed the front washed out most of the remaining aerosols.

Seasonable temperatures followed the front, but an impending major pattern change would bring an early taste of winter.
The high pressure ridge, which had provided summer-like temperatures early in the month, shifted west off the coast and expanded north toward Alaska, resulting in northerly flow aloft over the Intermountain Region.
The first cold front from Canada crossed our area on the 21st. By sunrise on the 22nd, temperatures had dropped below 32, the first freezing readings of the season at many lower valley locations. An even stronger cold front followed on the 24th, delivering an early season blast of Arctic air from northwest Canada.
On the 25th, record lows for the date were set at Jerome and Twin Falls, with 22 and 15 respectively.
The low of 17 at Boise on the 26th set a new record for the date. The temperature dropped to a frigid 3 above at Burns, setting a new record. It was 10 above at McCall, tying their record for the date. The 10 above at Mountain Home set a new record. The 16 at both Jerome and Twin Falls broke their old records.
It is interesting to note that just last year a nearly identical late October weather pattern also resulted in record lows, along with some light snow in the lower valleys.
The high pressure ridge began to drift back over the western U.S. on the 27th, bringing a warming trend.
The 71 at Burns on the 30th set a new record.

September 2020 Weather Summary

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


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


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


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

August 2020 Climate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monsoon thunderstorms brought more wind than rain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

 

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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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.