Snow already in the Idaho backcountry!

The Central Mountains of the state just northwest of Stanley saw snow on Sep. 13. (Photos courtesy Andrew Geaoge)

An aviation acquaintance of mine was flying in the Central Mountains of the state today just northwest of Stanley.

As you can tell by the photo, we had some snow in those hills. It was part of the weak low pressure system we have hanging around the state. It’s been in place for the last couple of days and finally managed to squeeze out a little snow above 7,000 feet. Now before the skiers get excited, please note, that snow will likely be gone by mid-morning Friday.

Just about anything can happen in the Idaho high country this time of the year. It can range from warm temperatures, to thunderstorms, flash flooding and yes, even snow. As the temperatures continue to cool down in October, the ground will gradually freeze. This will set the stage for subsequent snow events to start sticking to the ground creating the base layer for our much desired snow pack.

I’m a firm believer that conditions in the Pacific Ocean play a big role in our winter weather in Idaho. Two winters ago, we had a strong La Nina pattern in the Pacific. This scenario often makes for wetter than normal conditions in the northwest. La Nina started fading away last year and now it appears that we are in between La Nina and an El Nino.

The El Nino phenomenon usually makes for normal or occasionally, drier than normal conditions in the Northwest. Since the El Nino hasn’t quite formed, the general consensus is that we’ll likely see equal chances for a normal winter in Idaho. By the same token, sometimes Mother Nature has a mind of her own. For now, we are seeing fairly persistent Low pressure in the Northwest. It’s too weak to do much more than just generate a few weak disturbances. We’ll see how things are shaping up as we move into October.

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