The big question... Is winter over? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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The big question... Is winter over?

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Is Winter over for 2015? (PHOTO of Manito Park in February 2014 courtesy of  	Teenyboy in Spokane) Is Winter over for 2015? (PHOTO of Manito Park in February 2014 courtesy of Teenyboy in Spokane)
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SPOKANE, Wash. - Big changes once again are headed for the Inland Northwest. After having one of the most mild and warm winters on record it seems that now, the last week of February, mother nature has realized she skipped a season and wants to backtrack a bit.That's

right, cold temperatures and a chance for snow are coming back to Spokane and it seems that mother nature is starting her own musical rendition of bringing winter back. Although, probably not as good as Justin Timberlake's, “Bringing Sexy Back.”

While snow is fun and pretty to look at, it causes havoc on the roads and is a little less to be desired. Especially now, as many of you have decided to take all the winter gear and put it in storage (including myself).

Now that this threat for snow exists, many people wondering, is winter back? And if so, what gives? Last week we were nearing 60 degrees, and for the next several days we will struggle to be in the low 40's.

It is a simple answer really, its all about the ridge of high pressure. It really is, as simple as that. We undergo pattern and atmospheric shifts during the year and this is just another one of those.

Warm Ridge

The last several weeks a ridge of high pressure that had been keeping us nice and dry, had been sitting right over Oregon and Western Washington, pushing the jet stream just to our north keeping much of the moisture at bay but giving us warm temperatures that moved up from the south.

Now a shift of the ridge further west out into the Pacific Ocean, is causing the jet stream to shift with it. It is now allowing colder air to move in from Interior Canada and we have a jet stream that is moving from Northwest to Southeast over the state. Add a little moisture to this particular jet stream movement, such as later this week, and we increase that chance for snow. Systems that drop in from the northwest are generally weaker but can produce significant snowfall because they are much colder than ones we get from the south. The Cascades right now look to see several inches of snow as well as the Blue Mountains in Oregon. This first system will be mainly in Western Washington but this pattern looks to stick around for a bit.

So does this mean winter is back? Not necessarily… While the 8-14 day outlooks provided by the National Weather Service do show colder than average weather is to be expected, our precipitation chances are equal and could go either way. Another thing to consider is that when systems move down from the Northwest, they generally lose strength with a southerly jet stream. So don't expect there to be significant snow events in the next two weeks for Spokane.

What you can expect, is to have to scrape the windshield a few more times and a better chance for seeing snow in the mountains. To answer the last question, while more snow in the mountains will help, it will not completely replenish what has been lost already this year.

National Weather Service 8-14 Day Outlook

8-14 NWS Precipitation Outlook

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