Lately it seems like every morning in the Treasure Valley has been the same. Temperatures have been in the single digits. There’s frost on windshields, and people bundle up in big coats, hats and gloves. Clouds, fog and pollution hang low in the sky.
The National Weather Service says the valley hasn’t seen an inversion of this caliber since 1999.
But, up on Bogus Basin Road, around 4,000 feet, the sun comes out and the temperature is 30 degrees warmer.
At the top of the mountain, at the Pioneer Lodge, Hans Germann is with a group of friends. They just got off the slopes, polished off some chili cheese fries and are now having drinks. They’re done skiing, but they’re not planning on going home for a while.
“We traded air quality orange for air quality green,” Germann says.
Staff at the lodge say some customers haven’t even skied. They just came for the sunshine and warmer weather. Germann’s friends Nanette Meyers and Jessica Cortright are among those enjoying the change.
“It gets stir crazy down there in the cold, for sure," says Meyers. "It’s a ridiculous cold."
Cortright agrees. “I think Nanette said it best this morning, what was the quote you had on the car ride up here? It was basically ‘not getting any traction right now.’ Get traction on the snow tires and come up here,” Cortright laughs.
Down in the valley, that lack of traction - literally - has been a problem. Motorcyclists are among those who are frustrated by the conditions. Those who usually brave the January cold haven’t because of the slick roads.
Dale Zimmerman is a sales rep at Carl’s Cycle Sales in Boise. He says riding in weather like this is no fun.
“I saw a guy this morning coming out of the subdivision," Zimmerman says. "My comment was: his car must have broken down.”
One rider told us it’s been two weeks since he’s been on his motorcycle – the longest stretch of time he’s gone without riding.
Zimmerman says most riders have been pretty patient, but a change would be welcomed.
“Well, I think it would be nice to see a little sunshine and you know, have a little ice melt off would be great. Hopefully that’s coming soon.”
But as unpleasant as the last two weeks have been, the Treasure Valley has experienced much longer and colder inversions.
Jay Breidenbach is with the National Weather Service in Boise.
"It could be like 1985 where we bottomed out at -9," says Breidenbach. "It could be like 1990 when we bottomed out at -25. That’s quite a bit colder than we’ve been through this stretch."
But Breidenbach – a Florida native – has been getting an earful from friends and family members.
"They say, ‘Jay, you work for the National Weather Service, what are you going to be about this cold?’ I tell them about all we can do is forecast it. If I actually had control of the weather knob I think I’d turn the thermostat a little bit warmer right now," Breidenbach laments.
Breidenbach says the recent weather has also been a challenge professionally, because making an accurate forecast around an inversion can be difficult. He points to the freezing rain that fell early Thursday. Meteorologists, almost unanimously, predicted snow. But one variable related to the inversion meant there was barely any snow at all.
As for what’s next, Breidenbach says there’s good and bad news. He expects the current inversion to end when it gets blown out of the valley Saturday. But he says there’s a system that could bring another inversion to the area by the middle of next week.
Scott Graf contributed to this story.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio