Dry November to turn wet, snowy in December


WALLA WALLA -- November wasn't just dry. It was abnormally dry.

"This is the worst November for rain in quite a few years," said Steve Plucker, who farms land about 12 miles north of Touchet.

Officially the month closed out with exactly 1 inch of rainfall as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport, a mark 1.87 inches below normal. But in the western areas of the county, which traditionally receive less precipitation, conditions were even drier.

According to the National Weather Service, November's lack of rain left total precipitation for the year at 16.16 inches, which is 2.22 inches below normal based on a 30-year average. Measurable precipitation, defined as at least .01 inch, fell on 13 days with the heaviest rainfall, .21 inches, coming on Nov. 12, according to weather service records.

Since October, which was the start of the 2011-2012 water year, precipitation now stands at 2.37 inches, which is 2.18 inches below normal. The highest wind gust, during a month that had plenty, was 58 mph as recorded at the airport.

In terms of temperature, November days were quite a bit warmer than expected, with highs at 3 degrees above average while the nighttime lows were only slightly above normal. The warmest days were 65 degrees on Nov. 23 and Nov. 27 while the coldest night was 28 degrees on Nov. 16. Overall, there were nine days when the lows went below freezing, the weather service said.

But despite the dry conditions, which have continued into this month, forecasters say wet and snowy weather is still very much a possibility in the near future.

In a Seattle Times article Friday, Jon Gottschalck of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., said "we're expecting enhanced chances of below-normal temperatures and above-average precipitation over the next three months."

A moderate La Nina weather pattern, marked by cooler waters in the tropical Pacific, will likely play a key role in winter weather in the Pacific Northwest, Gottschalck said.

During a La Nina, the Pacific jet stream typically shifts north as it approaches the West Cost, aiming more storms at Washington and British Columbia, while producing drierweather along California's coast.

Normal highs for Walla Walla in December fall from 42 degrees at the start of the month to 38 degrees on New Years Eve. Normal lows fall from 31 degrees to 28 degrees. Normal precipitation is 2.47 inches, based on a 30-year average.


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