February 2012


Despite the additional day in February this year, most of the inland northwest had another sub-par month of precipitation. Our water year precipitation (Oct-present) is generally still behind the curve, particularly acute on the lee of the Cascades in the Columbia plateau that has only received 50-70% of their typical precipitation.

Recent storms across Washington State and northern Idaho have increased 1 March snowpack numbers to respectable numbers, while Oregon and central-southern Idaho are still below normal.

La Nina is rapidly fading and while La Nina years are typically synonymous with wet, snow, grey, dull and cold in the PNW, long-term observations show a reduction in the likelihood in wet late winters (defined as the top 20% of years) in the lee of the Cascades coinciding with the region experiencing the most pronounced drought

The first few weeks of March are forecasted to be cooler and wetter than normal, possibly helping out our mountain snowpack numbers a bit. While this is happening, be forewarned that you will likely see news reports of flowers blooming, the sun shinning as spring makes an early than normal appearance for much of the eastern US


Temperatures last month were not particularly noteworthy from a climatic perspective.  As speculated in my previous post, the coldest nightly low temperatures of the winter were observed the last couple days of February (Moscow 7F, Pullman 5F, Spokane 6F). These “coldest” nights are a far cry from what is typical for these sites in any given year and I’ll try to provide a mid-month update illustrating this point. However, the lack of very cold temperatures may have some interested biological impacts on populations that typically observe some decline in population due to the typical winter cold. More notably, very few daily record low temperatures for minimum temperature have been seen this winter. In fact, a search of record low minimum temperatures last month set in the month of Idaho revealed 0 records.  Coincidentally, there were also 0 record maximum high temperatures set in February, and only a handful of record high low temperatures or record low high temperatures. So maybe, just maybe temperatures last months were noteworthy in that it involved a bad case of extremaphobia.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by John Abatzoglou. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Abatzoglou

John is an associate professor of Geography at the University of Idaho. John's interests are centered around climate and weather of the American West and their impacts to people and natural resources of the West. John and his Applied Climate Science Lab at the University of Idaho have published nearly 100 papers and book chapters on climate science, meteorology, and applied climate science connecting climate to water resources, wildfire and agriculture. The research group also develops web-based climate services that connect climate data with decision makers to help improve climate readiness of societies and ecosystems.

One thought on “February 2012

  1. Pingback: Down coat optional winter | Climate for the Inland Northwest US

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