The older I get, the more I enjoy the warmer seasons. By warm I don’t mean heat, intense heat is something my Irish and Nordic bloodlines don’t handle well. However, I’ve come to yearn for spring and early summer, temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, particularly since living on the Palouse, which erupts with life each impending May.
This winter has been uncharacteristically warm in the Pacific Northwest, and on the Palouse we’ve seen just a small fraction of the snowfall we experienced last year. Last year’s snowfall was the most in my 7 years of living on the Palouse, and not only did it snow a lot, but it was downright cold. The temperature hardly ever got even a tick above freezing during the entire month of December, a month where it dumped over 26 inches of snow.
Last winter’s snowfall total ended up being over 70 inches in Moscow, versus the average which hovers somewhere in the 40’s of inches.
That’s not to say we haven’t gotten precipitation, it’s just been in the form of rainfall.
This year, things have been drastically different in terms of temperature. While we had some short cold spells in November and December, most of the winter’s high temperatures have been above freezing, and we’ve already had a handful of days in January that crawled above 50 degrees.
Precipitation has been heavy once again, and if it had been a colder winter, we may have had similar snowfall totals to last year. Our yard currently looks like a war-torn battlefield as the combination of the wet conditions and Maizy’s use have done quite the number on it.
A worry that comes to mind in regards to warm winter temperatures is how it will affect the mountains in the west come late summer. As all of us on the entire west coast know, from Montana and Idaho, to Washington, British Columbia, and Oregon, and potentially worst of all California, we experienced one of the worst wildfire seasons on record last year. With this year’s mild winter with a fairly absent deep-freeze, there is reason for concern that this summer could be even worse than last year, and I only hope the rain and higher elevation snowfall we’ve gotten will be enough to keep it from being too bad. That’s not to mention how these conditions may affect farmers in the west.
Amber and I were talking about this year’s winter the other day, and how we have mixed emotions about how it’s gone so far. While it’s been nice not to have to deal with repeated snow storms and icy road conditions, the rain has caused its own share of headaches, and even though it’s been warmer than last year, a consistently chilly 35 to 45 degrees still gets a little tiresome.
The thing we miss most about last year’s winter is the incomparable beauty that heavy snowfall brings to a region such as the Palouse. The rolling hills and distant mountains covered in snow creates a setting that can only be described as a “winter wonderland”. It can be truly breathtaking to explore places you’ve been many times before, which seemingly become a completely different place when they’re snow-covered.
Snow awakens a child-like sense of wonder, stoking the adult imagination. It brings you back to memories of building snow forts with siblings on a snow day and heading inside afterward for grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, and in my sister’s and my case, the thousandth screening of The Wind in the Willows.
Nonetheless, as February begins we’ve entered about the halfway point on our journey to spring flowers, May showers, and bright-green fields and forests inundated with new and re-awakening life.
I’ve already begun pinpointing different places I hope to see this spring and/or summer, and while I know we won’t get to most of them, I’m once again thankful to live in a place like the Pacific Northwest where there is an endless amount of exploration to be done.
Here are some of the places I’d love to see either in 2018, or in the near future:
- Larkins Lake, north Idaho, Lolo National Forest
- Diablo Lake and Mt. Baker Wilderness area, northwest Washington, North Cascades National Park
- Scotchman’s Peak, north Idaho, near Lake Pend Oreille
- The Enchantments, near Leavenworth, Washington, Wenatchee National Forest
- Glacier National Park, northwest Montana
We’ll be lucky to see half of these places, if that, this year, but I’m excited nonetheless, and it’s nice to have these different options to choose from as we make summer plans.
Where are you wanting to go when the weather warms up? Let me know in an email or the comments!