January keeps dry spell going

January's weather, by the numbers

January's weather, by the numbers NOAA/National Weather Service

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WALLA WALLA — Don’t you hate it when Punxsutawney Phil is right?

The famous groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter Sunday, and this week promises to bear out that forecast.

Another wave of arctic air is due to arrive starting Tuesday, sending nighttime lows into the single digits and keeping daytime highs not much above 20 degrees.

Snow is also in the forecast today, but that is expected to taper off with dry but cold weather dominating the rest of the week.

Dry was also the watchword for the first month of the year. January delivered only .95 inches of rain and snow, a mark 1.58 inches below normal. Almost half of that total fell on one day, Jan. 29, when .45 inches was recorded at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

The subpar moisture continued a trend of below-normal precipitation that now stretches back to October, which was also the start of the water year. Precipitation for the water year is now at 4.04 inches, a total 5.51 inches below normal.

Officials monitoring lower than usual snowpack levels in Washington state say it’s not time to panic, but they’re nevertheless preparing in case of a possible drought, The Associated Press reported.

The Department of Ecology plans to ask the Legislature for drought-relief money in case dry weather conditions persist into spring.

And a committee of state and federal officials that monitors the state’s water supply is meeting to start preparing for the worst. The last time it met was 2010, when there were similar concerns about a possible drought.

In terms of temperature in the Walla Walla Valley, January was fairly mild with the warmest day hitting 61 degrees on Jan. 11 and the coldest night going down to 23 degrees on Jan. 6. The overall average temperature was about 36 degrees, which was only slightly above normal.

The highest wind gust was 53 mph recorded on Jan. 11. This was the only day during the month when the wind exceeded 50 mph.

The outlook for February from the Climate Prediction Center calls for near to below normal temperatures and near to above normal precipitation. Normal highs for Walla Walla during February are 45.9 degrees and normal lows are 32.4 degrees. The 30-year normal precipitation is 1.76 inches.

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

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