January weather might bring return of normal moisture

A dry December culminated the Valley’s second-most-arid year on record.

December's weather, by the numbers.

December's weather, by the numbers. National Weather Service graphic

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WALLA WALLA — When it came to rain and snow, last year was a bust for the Walla Walla Valley.

December’s below normal precipitation capped what was the second-driest year on record for this area, according to National Weather Service Records.

Precipitation in 2013 totaled 12.57 inches, a mark 8.28 inches below normal, said Dennis Hull, NWS meteorologist in Pendleton. The driest year occurred 62 years earlier in 1952 when only 12.18 inches were recorded.

2013 weather highs (and lows)

Hottest day — 106 degrees on July 1.

Coldest night — 3 degrees on Dec. 7.

Peak wind gust — 54 mph on Sept. 15. (But an unofficial measurement recorded a peak gust of 65 mph on Sept. 5)

Wettest day — June 19 when rainstorms dumped .62 inches in 24 hours.

Driest month — July’s total of .02 of an inch, all of which fell on one day (July 16).

Wettest month — September, which had 1.87 inches of precipitation, a mark 1.12 inches above normal.

There was plenty of warning the year was going to turn out dry. By mid-year, the area had already seen six straight months with below-normal precipitation. And the bad news hadn't let up in the fall, either.

However, according to the outlook from the federal Climate Prediction Center, January should see a return to near normal weather conditions.

Normal highs for January in Walla Walla are about 41 degrees while normal lows are about 30 degrees. Average precipitation is 2.53 inches.

Going back to December, the month closed out with 1.06 inches of rain and snow, a total 1.41 inches below normal.

Measurable precipitation, at least .01 inch, fell on 11 days with the heaviest rainfall, .46 inches, coming on the first day of the month. The month’s peak wind gust, 36 mph, also occurred on the same day.

Snowfall totaled 3.4 inches with at least 1 inch of snow reported on two days. More than half that amount, 1.7 inches, fell on Dec. 3.

Along with below normal precipitation, December brought below normal temperatures including the coldest night of the year on Dec. 7 when the mercury dipped to 3 degrees.

Aided by an invasion of arctic air at the start of the month, there were 22 days when the lows were below freezing and eight days when the highs stayed below 32 degrees as well.

Overall, the average low temperature for the month was about 25 degrees, a mark nearly 4 degrees below normal.

Daytime highs were not as bad with an average of 38.6 degrees, which is near normal for December. The average temperature was 31.6 degrees, which is 1.8 degrees below normal.

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

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