Letters from the West

November weather was bizarre, but bet on dry and warm this winter

November’s cold snap followed by balmy fall temperatures was unprecedented, a National Weather Service hydrologist said.

And while we’ve had a relatively wet fall, the odds are that this winter will be warm and dry, said Jay Breidenbach of the National Weather Service in Boise.

First 7.6 inches of snow fell in Boise breaking an 80-year record Nov. 13. Then temperatures climbed into the 60s as the East Coast was buried in snow.

“We’ve neer seen a November like this before,” Breidenbach said.

The bizarre weather was caused by a super typhoon off the coast of Japan, which pushed warm air into Alaska and then cold air into Idaho. It was not tied to the so-called “blob” of warm ocean water off of the Gulf of Alaska.

Idaho’s weather is more affected by water temperatures in the tropics. There the water might usually be 80 degrees. So if it rises a couple of degrees to 82 it can create thunderstorms, with clouds rising into the stratosphere and affecting the jet stream, he said.

The warmer water along this equatorial convergence zone is leading to El Nino conditions, which means more chance of a warmer, drier winter, Breidenbach said. But its not certain.

“If you are going to bet on it, there’s more warm and dry numbers on the wheel but there are still some cold and wet numbers on the wheel too.”

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