December mostly dry, cold

The area spent much of the month below freezing, but nearly hit 60 degrees on the first day of winter.

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WALLA WALLA -- December was short on precipitation but long on cold.

Aided by an invasion of arctic air, the last month of the year posted much colder than normal temperatures. Highs averaged just above 34 degrees, about 5 degrees below normal, while the lows averaged 24.5 degrees, a mark almost 6 degrees below normal, according to the National Weather Service.

There were 14 days where the high stayed below freezing and only seven nights where the temperature rose to 32 degrees or above. The warmest day was on Dec. 21 when the high was 57 degrees and the coldest night was on Dec. 10 when the mercury fell to 5 degrees.

Despite a mix of snow, sleet and rain, the month finished slightly more than one inch below normal for precipitation with a total of 1.36 inches measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport. Measurable precipitation of at least a tenth of an inch fell on 10 days with the largest amount, .30 inches, reported Dec. 16.

Total precipitation for the year measured 17.2 inches, 3.68 inches below normal, according to preliminary data from the weather service. The total for the water year, which runs from October through September now stands at 5.29 inches, a mark 1.84 inches below normal.

The highest wind gust during the month came on Dec. 21 when a gust of 44 mph was recorded, according to the weather service.

According to the Climate Predication Center, the outlook for this month calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. The normal daytime high for Walla Walla is about 40 degrees and the normal lows are around 29 degrees. Normal precipitation based on a 30-year average is 2.14 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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