Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's up with this December weather!! Weather experts say there may be hope in sight

10-day outlook is not promising (courtesy NOAA)

90-day outlook calls for wetter than normal (courtesy NOAA)

30-day outlook calls for wetter than normal (courtesy NOAA)
Hi all,

Well, geez, our snow dance moves must be totally uninspiring or just plain lame. It's not working!!!

The December precipitation for the greater Boise area so far this month is a big fat ZERO. According to the National Weather Service, December is supposed to be our wettest month!

I checked with NWS officials today to see if they still are expecting a La Nina winter. The answer was, yes, but it is a weaker La Nina than last year.

The 30-day outlook from the NWS still calls for above-normal precipitation or "wetter than normal" conditions ... that should mean some big snow storms! But Colin Baxter, NWS meteorologist in Boise, says that the location of the polar vortex is to blame. "We're locked in this pattern where the polar vortex is hovering over Hudson Bay and the Bering Sea, and that's forcing low pressure to the south along the Pacific Coast."

The NWS model shows the polar vortexes shifting, but the big question is WHEN? The NWS National Climate Prediction Center "has been hinting at that for several weeks, but it hasn't happened," Baxter notes.

A storm was supposed to come through today (Thursday, Dec. 15), but it's not expected to bring any measurable snow. Dang! Another system is expected in a week, Thursday, Dec. 22, but that storm front, Baxter says, "doesn't look terribly impressive."

"We should be switching out of this pattern between now and New Year's and changing to a wetter pattern," he says.

Let's all hope that happens! Bring it, oh great one, Ullr!

In the meantime, in all likelihood, it's going to be a brown Christmas in Boise, and everyone will be hoping that Bogus Basin opens before its latest opening in recent memory -- Jan. 6, 1989. Brundage Mountain opened on Dec. 21 that year. Its latest opening was in the terribly bad drought winter of 1976-77 when Brundage opened on Jan. 8.

"We were expecting a whole lot more snow in December because it was supposed to be a La Nina year," says Bogus Basin spokeswoman Gretchen Anderson. "There's only three years when we weren't open before Christmas going back to 1969, so this is really unusual. We are ready, and we're waiting."

Brundage has a nice blog post with good photos explaining the situation there ... they need about a foot of more snow to open. Brundage plans a 50th birthday party bash on Dec. 28, no matter if they're open by then or not. "If we are not able to open before that event, it will certainly turn into the mother of all Pray-for-Snow parties," says Brundage spokeswoman April Russell.

In the meantime, turn your Christmas parties into snowdance parties and shake it, baby!

If you really want to play in the snow, check out my recommendations from last week. Plus, Tamarack Resort is opening today with man-made snow on top of natural snow on the beginner chairlift, and they're doing to open Showtime via the Tamarack Express quad on Saturday. Tickets are $45 for adults.

Sun Valley is open with several long groomers open and a 20-inch base, including Warm Springs from top to bottom, Upper and Lower College, and a few others. They have a pre-season special going on for one night's lodging and a lift ticket for $79 each.

Otherwise, go boot-hiking in the snow for fun, go soak in a hot springs, or go hiking, biking or running in the Boise Foothills, the Snake River canyon or the Owyhees.

Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning in Boise at approximately 7:10 a.m. If you miss the program, you can hear the segments on
River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.

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