SPOKANE, Wash. – Every year, KREM’s Chief Meteorologist Tom Sherry gives his long-range winter forecast for Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
Tom’s 2017 forecast accurately predicted snowfall in Spokane County within an inch of the final total.
This year, he’s predicting less snowpack than normal.
Here’s Tom Sherry’s full long-range winter forecast 2018:
Likely El Nino Winter brings milder weather to Eastern Washington
There is a very good chance that we are headed for an El Nino this winter. El Ninos are characterized by the appearance of unusually warm water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in December.
These warm waters have an effect on the jet stream. It makes the normally weak subtropical jet stream stronger over the southwest while the polar jet stream and its storm track moves north of the Pacific Northwest.
El Ninos can have a profound effect on winter weather along the west coast. It typically results in milder winters in the northwest that result in less valley snowfall. Many times we’ll get a rain-snow mix or snow that melts quickly.
Meanwhile, the Southwest sees a more active storm track that produces more valley rain in southern California and more mountain snow in the southwestern mountains.
Mountain snowpack: 80 percent of normal
Snowfall in our mountains is critical for our water supply. This year, the forecast for our mountain snowpack is about 80 percent of normal. Not great, but still okay.
Not only do we recreate in the snowy mountains, but the release of water from that snowpack is crucial to recharging our rivers, lakes and aquifer.
But it’s the snowfall in our towns and cities is what concerns most people as we head into winter.
How much snow you’ll see across the region
The forecast for this el nino winter has communities along the east slope of the cascades receiving almost normal amounts of snowfall.
Leavenworth will get 97 inches this year, but most of eastern Washington and North Idaho will only get 70 to 80 percent of normal snowfall.
Chelan will see 29 inches of snow while Ritzville will get 14 inches.
In the Palouse, Pullman will see only 69 percent of normal snowfall resulting in 25 inches.
In northeastern Washington, Colville should get about 37 inches of snow, which is about 10 inches below average.
Over in Sandpoint, 56 inches are expected to fall instead of normal 70 inches.
In the Silver Valley, Kellogg can expect 38 inches of snow.
In Coeur d’Alene, you’ll pick up 42 inches.
In Spokane, the forecast is for 35 inches of snowfall, which is about 70 percent of normal.
The takeaway: We’ll still have to shovel a bit and the roads will be slippery at times. So get your house and car ready. Winter is still coming.