Last full month of winter on warm, dry side

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WALLA WALLA — Time to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring.

Time also to say goodbye to short days and long nights as well.

This month will see the seasons change with the spring equinox March 20, marking the official end of winter. Another seasonal change will happen March 10 when daylight saving time returns and everyone loses an hour of sleep when clocks are moved ahead.

Looking back on February, the last full month of winter failed to live up to predictions of near normal temperatures and precipitation. The weather instead proved to be warmer (although it may not have seemed like it) and drier than normal.

Overall, the average temperature for February was 41.6 degrees, a mark 2.5 degrees higher than average. The warmest days were Feb. 16 and 27 when the high reached 56 degrees and the coldest night came Feb. 18 when the mercury dipped to 29 degrees. That was one of 11 nights when the low was 32 degrees or colder.

In terms of precipitation, February failed to deliver. The total for the month, mostly in the form of rain, came to 0.94 inches, a mark 0.82 inches below normal. The heaviest rainfall came on the Feb. 28 when a day-long storm brought 0.35 inches as measured at Walla Walla Regional Airport. Overall there were only eight days with measurable precipitation.

Precipitation this year is now at 2.27 inches, 2.02 inches below normal. Since October, the water year precipitation has been 9.67 inches, 1.64 inches below normal.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, snowpack conditions for the Walla Walla River basin were fairly good at the end of February. Monitors reported the year-to-date snowfall at 4 percent above average and the snow-water equivalent at 85 percent of average.

The highest wind gust during the month was 44 mph as measured at the airport.

According to the federal Climate Prediction Center, the forecast for March calls for below-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation.

Normal highs for Walla Walla rise from 50 degrees at the start of the month to 59 degrees by the start of April. Normal lows rise from 34 degrees to 40 degrees. Normal precipitation is 2.30 inches based on a 30-year average.

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