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By Bob Valen 

What will the Winter of 2020-2021 be like?

Weather Watcher


Last updated 11/4/2020 at 9:18am

We aren’t out of Autumn yet and already we’ve had a reminder of winter weather. Though, our recent “winter” weather event wasn’t unprecedented. The records show that we’ve had five occurrences of snow in October dating back to 1934 when records started. In fact, in 1971, we had 1.3 inches of snowfall. John Steinbeck once said, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

Winter will arrive soon enough. Let us take a look at what we might expect to see. In past Weather Watcher Columns, I’ve addressed the Tropical Pacific Ocean occurrences of El Niño and La Niña. They are reverse phases of what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. These phases affect global weather. Sometimes it’s in a neutral state too.

As winter slowly approaches here in the Inland Northwest, a close look at what is happening down on the Tropical Pacific is sensible. I did some reading on some of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sites to see what the general prognosis is. I’ve been watching, and I suspected this is what the scientists at NOAA would share: “La Niña—the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern—emerged in the tropical Pacific in August 2020. Forecasters estimate an 85% chance these conditions will last through Northern Hemisphere winter. La Niña winters tend to favor warm and dry conditions in the southern tier of the U.S. and snowier-than-average conditions across much of the northern U.S.”

Ok, so what does that mean? Here is what the Climate Prediction Center states: “With La Niña well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

For the months of December, January and February in our region of the nation, it looks like we may see 40 to 50 percent chance of below normal temperatures and a 40 to 50 percent chance of above normal precipitation. With this information you may consider your needs and preparation for what could be a cool and wet winter.

As I write this column, I just read that a possible new world record for the largest hail stone may have occurred. According to Severe Weather Europe, here’s what happened. “The capital of Libya, Tripoli has been (was) hit by an unprecedented severe supercell storm on Tuesday, Oct 27th, 2020. The storm produced exceptionally large, giant hail, possibly more than 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. The first reports indicate that hailstones could be one of the largest ever recorded on Earth!”

For those who watch the night sky and have a decent telescope, here’s something to be aware of. “A large asteroid will pass Earth at more than 11 times the moon’s distance on November 29, 2020, and will approach more closely in later flybys.” This information is from They go on to say that, “After the November 29, 2020, visit to Earth, the asteroid will return, passing slightly closer on each subsequent flyby – first in November 2040, and then in November 2093. An even-closer flyby will happen on December 1, 2140, when the asteroid will pass at about half the Earth-moon distance. Because of its size and occasional relatively close flybys, asteroid 2000 WO107 has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. However, no risk of impact has been detected, as its orbit is well known.”

Here’s a summary of the weather observed for the month of October 2020. All measurements are taken from my home weather station. We had our little snap of Winter Weather on Friday the 23rd. Snow, rain mix here at the home weather station. For the month, our precipitation total was 0.80”. The heaviest rainfall measured was on the 12th. The wettest October had 3.98” in 2016. The mean is 0.77” The high temperature was 83.4˚F, the low was 21.3˚F and the mean for this October was 49.9˚F. The all-time high was 90˚F back in 1935, the all-time low was 10˚F in 1984 and the all-time mean temperature is 51˚F.


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