Snow and Ice in Spokane, WA (Seattle, Walla Walla: apartments, rental, how much)
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I'm considering moving to Spokane this coming Spring due to the low rents I'm seeing posted for apartments (under $700/mo for spacious 2-beds in the Valley close to Sprague), as well as the type of people that I hear live there (I'm a little different from the kind of folk you normally think about here in Los Angeles). Something that does worry me, though, is the amount of snowfall I see posted for the winter months on the Climate Graph:
http://pics.city-data.com/w5/snw23316.png (broken link)
It's two standard deviations above the US average for three months out of the year! I'm mostly concerned about the stats for late December and early January. Being from sunny Southern California (where I'm being priced out if I want to live in a remotely quiet neighborhood without gangster rap blasting 24/7), I have no idea how much snow 16 inches per month really is.
Does anyone with experience in this kind of weather have an opinion about how livable it is? That is to say, does it get extremely dangerous to drive around town during the day, and do days exist when you're physically blocked in your home? Does putting chains on your tires make driving around town that much safer? I ask all these questions because wherever I move, I'd like to be able to stay for 2 or 3 years before moving again, and I won't be able to afford taking a trip up there until after the freezing winter is over this year, so I won't be able to test it out for myself until the weather gets beautiful!
I also thought I'd say that I normally prefer cold weather to hot, since you can always bundle up and get warmer, but you can only take off so much clothing in blistering heat before you get arrested... and I think I ought to drop another 50 or 60 pounds before I start getting too fresh in public .
I think I'll leave it at that for now, before I start to ramble.
I'm not sure where you got that graph, but we surely don't get 16 inches of snow per month during the winter. Right now there is an accumulation of about 6 inches and that's about as deep as it's been this winter. We had one good snowfall in November, then it warmed up and melted. I was in Hawaii over CHristmas, but I heard there was some more snow during those 2 weeks. It is very cold this week - it's been hovering in the single digits and up to about 20, but that is not the norm. Usually we'll get some snow, it stays on the ground for a week or so, then temps go up in the 30's and everything melts. Snow can start as early as late October, usually mid-November and it comes and goes through February - sometimes there will be little flurries in March and even April, but they don't last or settle on the ground for long. I have never used chains on my tires - I've heard that people living in outlying areas with no road maintenance might use them just for getting in and out of their homes (I'm talking dirt or gravel roads out in the more mountainous areas of Spokane county - not in the city limits). This winter I didn't get snow tires - I'm using good all season tires and have had minimal slipping. YOu just have to be careful and slow down for the weather. Some people use studded tires during the icy winter months - depends on where you live and how well the roads are maintained. SInce moving here in 1998 from Florida, my kids have NEVER had a snow day. I think there have been 2 days where there was a 2 hour late start and that's it. The main roads are kept well sanded and plowed as quickly as possible.
Good to know, thanks for the local perspective. You seem to be the gal to ask about Spokane! As for the discrepancy about the snow data, I got the graph right off the Spokane page from City Data itself! But I'll take your word for it over the chart, since you actually live there. I suppose that there might be 16 total inches of snow in Dec/Jan, but the fact that it gets warm enough to melt the snow in-between flurries must make a huge difference. In places like Chicago and NYC, there's less total snow, but it never gets warm enough to melt it and get rid of it... I think. I have no personal experience to support that claim.
Anyway, great thanks for your input. It's been quite helpful.
Me and my fiance are also considering relocating from so cal, the housing prices are outragous and the la area isnt a great place to raise a family. Her concern is the wind. Is there any? And how much rain is there? Weather doesnt bother me, ive spent time in the east coast as well as the persian gulf so I prefer the cold.
As someone who follows weather as a hobby, I can verify that the graph is indeed accurate as far as historical averages are concerned. I have never actually lived in Spokane, but I have lived in Montana for several years and am quite familiar with the climate of the greater NW. However, I will say that the past 10-20 winters have been milder than average throughout the NW. I don't really believe that trend will continue forever, though. Even this winter has been colder than the past several... I know Spokane has gotten below zero at least a couple times. Average snowfall is about 50 inches per year, 10 inches more than Chicago and twice as much as NYC. Spokane averages a high of 33 in January, with a low of 22. That's nearly identical to Chicago and about 5-10 degrees colder than NYC. Novembers and Decembers are significantly colder in Spokane than in Chicago, though. Rainfall is about half the national average, although more than LA of course. Winds are about average, not windy but not calm either.
At this very moment, the temperature in Spokane is 10 degrees, with a wind chill of -1. But it's a dry cold :P
I assume that the wind in Spokane will be similar to that of Walla Walla, where I live. We get anywhere from 30-50 mph winds. Spokane is a considered a desert area, and Walla Walla is in the banana belt (but don't let that fool you regarding how humid it is). We do get really long summers and they tend to be in the high 80's to low 100's, some as high as 115-degrees downtown. Right now, we have single digit cold, which happens about a couple of times during the winter here.
Spokane being further north, probably gets the single digit or below zero weather and more snow. This winter we've had about 1-2" total in snow fall, so far. That's one of the reasons why we moved here--we don't want to live anywhere where we have to shovel a lot of snow. We'll drive to skiing, but we hate working in it or having to shovel to get out. I grew up in East Central Wisconsin between Lake WInebago and Lake Michigan and got dumped on to the tune of 20 ft. or more of snow each winter and all 6 of us kids had to shovel and shovel and shovel. And if you lived in the country, you couldn't get out, cuz there were times in the city you couldn't get out of the house with snow halfway up the doors and you crawled out the windows to shovel yourself out of the house and garage. It's why I live out west now...too much now and too much heat, humidty, and tornadoes in WI...
I love living in Walla Walla County...it's balances out just what we want and need.
Thanks all for your input. My major concern was being locked in the house by snow, or having to get up an hour early every day for three months to dig my way out. The fact that it gets warm enough after a flurry to melt what it left makes that worry go away, since it's less likely to accumulate like it does in the upper Midwest. The only other concern I have is the wind, but it seems about as bad as what's around here in Los Angeles during our periodic Santa Ana blasts, so I can tolerate that. I'll just have to learn how to dress properly for the weather.
Spokane continues to sound great! I can't wait to visit and see it for myself.
I don't think it will be too bad snow-wise in Spokane, but I'd expect more than the 1-2" here--maybe 4-6" or less in one drop, but more through the winter. The Midwest is awful for snow, and I had to move because I couldn't stand it, and from what I can tell, it's gotta be less here, than there, just based on the mountains and no BIG lakes surrounding Spokane, so it has to have less snow. Spokane is 4-5 hours from Walla Walla, and it's beautiful. I don't think you'll have to dig yourself out though, but you may have to shovel some, how much will depend on whether you live in city or outside the city. I have some friends who live at Nine Mile Falls and they get more snow than Spokane does as they are somewhat Northwest of the city itself.
We lived in Fullerton, when we lived in SoCal, and I remember the Santa Anas. I don't think the wind is that bad, but it's still pretty strong. I'll check with my husband to find out for sure and get back to you. He's a better judge of wind speed--being a sailor, than I am (who never sailed).
All in all, it's not a bad place to live, and will never get as large as Seattle or Portland, so if you have kids, they'll have a really nice place to grow up and move away from (as kids often do).
Stop down in Walla Walla if you have any time and visit.
Thanks for the details. I read in a few house rental ads the comment "driveway and walkway must be kept shoveled during snow season", so I figured that there would be some shoveling involved. I just didn't want to be in the situation described earlier where I'd have to climb out the window to clear snow away from the front door! That would be a hassle to have to do.
As for raising kids there, I don't have any yet, and it will likely be a while before I ever get around to that. Right now I'm just trying to save up enough money to go back to college, and it seems that Spokane is the most affordable place to be able to do that. After getting enough of a savings built up to be able to work only part time while going to school, I was going to take whatever necessary GE classes remained (I have the whole lower division of my Physics major taken care of) before transferring to either UW or WSU... probably UW, since the whole small-town college environment didn't work out for me at UCSB (and Santa Barbara is a much larger city than Pullman!).
My family and I are moving to the Spokane area from the OC/SD areas respectively. I was in Spokane over the Christmas weeks and there was not too much. We shoveled the driveway almost daily, but it wasn't bad. They are getting quite a bit of snow, but its due to La Nina conditions this year.
I am looking forward to getting out of big city life. We are moving in July and can hardly wait. We watched fires outside our windows this past October and look forward to living in a wetter climate. We all know what we want in life, and the grass is always greener on the other side. If you don't want snow days, don't move to the Medical Lake, Cheney or Airway Heights areas. They don't have the budget to clear the roads quickly, so those areas are more likely to have snow days (had one yesterday after 7 inches of snow). Good luck with your move.
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