Warm start made for abnormal December

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WALLA WALLA — December had a warm start but ended with a freezing finish.

After hitting a high of 62 on Dec. 4, the month closed with the lowest low, 23 degrees, on New Year’s Eve.

Despite closing on an icy note, overall the month was abnormally warm with an average temperature of about 40 degrees, 6.6 degrees above normal. The average daytime high was about 46 degrees and low temperatures averaged 34 degrees. There were 10 days when the low was below 32 degrees and one day when the high stayed below freezing.

Although December brought a fair share of rain and a bit of snow, it still came up short, finishing with 1.84 inches of precipitation, a mark 0.63 inches below normal. The first snow seen in the lower elevations this winter fell on Christmas, when 0.4 inches was reported.

While any snow in town was quick to melt away, in the higher elevations it has been a different story. As of today, the Walla Walla River basin is enjoying a healthy snowpack with monitoring stations reporting snow depth at 18 percent above normal.

Thanks to abundant rains in the springtime, total rain and snowfall for 2012 year finished at 23.41 inches, a mark 2.56 inches above normal. The total for the water year, which began in October and runs through September, is now 7.40 inches, 0.38 inches above normal.

The highest wind gust was 63 mph recorded Dec. 20 at Walla Walla Regional Airport. That was also the peak wind speed for this area in 2012.

The outlook for this month calls for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation. Normal highs for January are about 41 degrees and normal lows are about 30 degrees.

The normal precipitation for January is 2.53 inches, based on a 30-year average.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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