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The Forcast for 2005-2006 

by Ann M. Colford & r & Last year, KXLY-TV meteorologist Kris Crocker told us -- in this very issue last November -- that the ski season wasn't looking too good. Sadly for local skiers, she was right. But she's feeling much better about this year.

"In the Equatorial Pacific, everything is looking pretty much average," she says. "The sea surface temperatures are normal. We call that a neutral pattern, so our precipitation will be about average. We'll have the jet stream parked over us pretty much all winter."

Crocker thinks we'll see a lot more storm systems this year, but she doesn't expect them to continue at their recent pace. After all, it's been a gangbusters start to the season, with local hills already hitting between 22 and 32 inches on top; 49 & deg; North is set to open Friday while the rest are targeting a Thanksgiving weekend opening. (Mount Spokane plans to open on Dec. 3.)

"Last year, we had a split jet stream for most of the winter," she says. "That sent the moisture south to California or up into Canada."

Here in the city, she says, our moisture will be about average, but temperatures are trending just slightly above average.

"In Spokane, we are frequently right on the rain-snow line," says Crocker. "One degree difference in temperature can mean the difference between rain and snow."

Snow in the mountains, rain in the city -- skiers should feel optimistic. And the meteorologist's family has a ski trip booked in mid-December. There's a prediction you can take to the slopes.

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