February on dry, chilly side in Walla Walla

Two days aside, the last full month of winter was on the arid end of the spectrum.

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WALLA WALLA -- The last full month of winter didn't disappoint.

February finished out with a blast of arctic air followed by gusty, wet weather. The coldest day and night of the month came Feb. 25 with a high of 24 degrees and a low of 10 degrees. Although temperatures warmed up afterward, the final day of the month brought almost a half-inch of rain and winds that topped out at 58 mph.

The last-minute soaking seemed typical of February's all-or-nothing precipitation. Almost all of the month's rain or snow fell on two days, Feb. 15 when .98 inches came down and Feb. 28 with .45 inches. Despite the double dousing, February precipitation finished below normal with 1.62 inches. Overall, there were 20 days with zero or trace precipitation and eight days with measurable amounts of at least .01 of an inch.

There was one day of measurable snowfall, Feb. 18, when one inch was recorded.

Precipitation for the year now stands at exactly 3 inches, 1.22 inches below normal. Since the start of the water year, which runs from October through September, the area has received 10.30 inches of precipitation, a mark 1.05 inches below normal.

Despite the invasion of frigid air at the end of the month, February was only slightly colder than normal overall. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature, about 38 degrees, was slightly more than 1 degree below average for the month. The warmest day was Feb. 12 when the high was 65 degrees.

This month will mark the official start of spring with the equinox March 20. But don't break out the shorts and T-shirts just yet.

According to the federal Climate Prediction Center, temperatures will remain below normal with daytime highs rising from about 54 degrees at the start of the month to 58 degrees at the end. Precipitation is forecast to be above the normal amount of 2.20 inches based on a 30-year average.

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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