November was warm and wet for much of the inland northwest [and eastern 2/3rds of the country] with temperatures regionally 2-5F warmer than 1981-2010 normals. The warm temperatures across the county in November should this clinch 2012 for the record warmest year to-date in the lower-48.
Precipitation was above normal for much of region. Finals numbers are still rolling in following the series of systems that impacted Northern California last week and into this past weekend. The moist southwesterly plume ended up bringing some decent precipitation numbers to parts of the central Idaho mountains with McCall Idaho receiving over three and a half inches of precipitation (nearly all rain) over a 72 hour period toward the end of month and into the first 30 hours of December. Not the 20+” that Honeydew, California received last week, but more than a couple drops in the bucket.
Despite the fantastic start to the water year, precipitation-wise; snowpack numbers are mixed, with most basins below normal. The combination of warm and wet conditions in November were not kind to snowmen. Using the North American Freezing Level Tracker, developed through a collaborative effort between the Western Regional Climate Center and myself, we find that the freezing level was about 500m higher than normal last month, and more importantly, even more above normal on days with precipitation. Using a crude threshold of 0C to delineate snow from rain and daily precipitation amounts, we find that the percent of precipitation falling as snow was the 2nd lowest on record (1948-present) at 7000ft (2200m). Snow bums are bummed out. But the season is still young.
The Idaho Statesman commented on the pathetic snowfall numbers at Bogus Basin to-date following the latest opening on record last winter for the region. With a name like Bogus Basin, I’m not sure anyone should be too surprised. The Bogus Basin SNOTEL (el 6350ft) had a whopping 1.2″ of SWE as of December 3rd, despite about 7″ of precipitation since 1 Oct. Bogus!