January chilly, but moisture lacking

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WALLA WALLA — Yes, it was cold. But it was a dry cold.

That’s a lousy parody on an old summer saw, but it pretty well described the first month of the New Year.

During a month that seemed ruled by frost and fogs, the average temperature was 32.5 degrees, just barely above freezing. Daytime highs averaged 37 degrees, nearly 4 degrees below normal. Nighttime lows averaged about 28 degrees, 2 degrees below average.

Three nights, Jan. 3, 12 and 13, tied for the lowest temperature with a low of 19 degrees. The warmest day came early in the month on Jan. 9 in the with a high of 59 degrees, a mark that was easily outweighed by the 14 days were the high stayed below 32 degrees.

While low temperatures were not in short supply, precipitation seemed to take a powder. The total for the month was 1.33 inches, a mark 1.20 inches below normal. Most of the precipitation came in the form of rain, with the most falling on Jan. 7 when slightly more than a half-inch fell. Measurable precipitation, defined as at least .01 inch, fell on only 11 days during the month.

The below-normal precipitation left the water year precipitation at 8.73 inches, .82 inches below normal. The highest wind gust was 49 mph on Jan. 9.

Despite the dry conditions, the snowpack feeding the Walla Walla River basin appeared to be in reasonably good shape today. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, measuring stations show the year-to-date precipitation 8 percent above average and the “snow water equivalent” is 90 percent of normal.

The outlook for this month according to the federal Climate Predication Center calls for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.

Normal highs are 45.9 degrees and normal lows are 32.4 degrees. The 30-year normal precipitation is 1.76 inches.

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