Increasing water temperatures in the northeastern Pacific Ocean could mean good news for Idaho skiers and snowboarders this winter and perhaps some much-needed drought relief for much of the Western U.S.
A winter forecast released this week by AccuWeather.com predicts frequent precipitation, in the form of rain and snow, for the Northwest as well as the northern Rocky Mountains.
Temperatures will be above normal along the coast of Oregon and Washington, and well below normal in Montana and Wyoming, according to the long-range forecast. What does that mean for Idaho?
The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center expects normal or near-normal temperatures for most of Idaho during the first half of winter.
AccuWeather.com pegs its forecast of a wet winter on the likelihood of a jet stream that will track farther south and "bring moisture in multiple-week periods throughout the winter season."
Idaho ski resort officials aren't likely to complain about such a forecast.
Sun Valley, with a projected 2013-14 season opening of Nov. 21, typically receives about 220 inches of snow each winter. Brundage Mountain Resort is slated for a Thanksgiving opening. It receives about 320 inches of snow each winter.
Closer to home, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area also hopes for a late-November opening and more than 200 inches of natural snowfall over the course of the season.
But the news isn't all good. Icy roads and dropping temperatures can leave many Idaho drivers in a bindor in a ditch.
AAA urged motorists to get their vehicle inspected for little problems that can turn into bigger ones when cold weather sets in.
During October, AAA is offering free inspections, open to both its members and those who do not subscribe. Drivers can take their cars to any approved facility for the check, which can identify worn belts and tires or a dying battery before wintery weather sets in.
A list of shops offering the free inspections are available in the automotive services section of www.AAA.com.