Forecasts are predicting two vastly different winters in Idaho, one that could exacerbate the state’s current drought and the other that could mean promising snowpack.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a yearly publication that features weather forecasts, gardening advice and other articles, released its winter 2022 predictions this week. The Almanac is calling for a cold, dry winter for the Intermountain West region, including Idaho.
The publication has warned of a “season of shivers,” with its editor suggesting this winter could be “one of the longest and coldest that we’ve seen in years.”
The Almanac claims it has an 80% success rate, but its past predictions for the Treasure Valley haven’t been on target.
The National Weather Service, on the other hand, is predicting a La Niña winter — that means stronger trade winds will likely bring cooler temperatures and wetter weather to Idaho, NWS meteorologist Dave Groenert said.
“We were in a La Niña last year as well, so each La Niña is going to be different,” Groenert said in a phone interview. “They average out to be cooler and wetter.”
Despite the ongoing drought, last winter actually had normal precipitation, Groenert said.
“We had good moisture over the winter but we didn’t follow through with the spring moisture, so that’s what hurt us this year,” he said.
The winter precipitation outcome will be crucial for Idaho and much of the region, which experienced worsening drought conditions through 2021.
“We definitely need a good snow year to make up for what we’re coming out of here,” he said.
But Groenert said it’s early to make precise predictions.
“There’s a lot more at play than just the La Niña,” he said. “It’s a trend, so at this point there’s a better-than-normal chance of cooler and wetter conditions, but that’s probably about as far as we can go (with our forecast).”
Groenert said La Niña conditions typically hit Idaho from December to February, with November a “wild card” that sometimes brings heavy snow and sometimes has only mild winter weather.