Season's greetings come early with cold, snow

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WALLA WALLA -- Technically it's not winter yet. But that would have been a tough argument to make last month.

After a fairly mild start, November brought in rain, wind, bone-chilling cold and a load of snow to boot.

The first day of the month was also the warmest with a high of 69 degrees, but afterwards temperatures began to slide, then plunge, downward.

The mercury hit bottom on Nov. 23 when an invasion of Arctic air dropped the low to minus 2 degrees, the coldest mark for both the month and for the year. Temperatures started to climb out of the cellar after that, but both daytime highs and nighttime lows stayed well below normal through the end of the month. Overall there were 10 nights where the highs were below freezing and four days when the temperature stayed below 32 degrees.

Along with the brutal cold came the first snows of the year, which started Nov. 21 and continued through Thanksgiving. Total snow depths ranged from six to eight inches in and around Walla Walla, nearly all of it melting away when rain and rising temperatures came in on the last day of the month.

Despite all the rain and snow, the month closed out below normal for precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. The total for the month was 2.10 inches, a mark three-quarters of a inch below normal. The heaviest rainfall came on Nov. 7 when slightly more than a half-inch fell as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

Total precipitation for the year is now 15.31 inches, about three inches below normal based on a 30-year average, according to the weather service. Total precipitation for the water year, which began in October, is now at 4.24 inches, a mark .38 inches below normal.

The highest wind gust was 48 mph on Nov. 16 as measured at the airport.

November's weather went against the outlook issued by the national Climate Predication Center, which called for near-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation. This month's outlook again predicts near-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation.

Normal highs for Walla Walla in December start out at about 42 degrees and fall to about 39 degrees by the end of the month. Normal lows range from 28 to 30 degrees. The average precipitation, based on a 30-year average, is 2.51 inches.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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