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By Bob Valen 

Weather Watcher - Can January muster up some “real” snow

 


December left only 1.3 inches of new snow here at the home weather station; a real disappointment. December 2010 we had 7.8 inches of snow (2009: 2.6 and 2008: 21.1).

Temperatures were mild as well. Our lowest temperature was on Dec. 8 at 16.4F. The month couldn’t even muster up a single-digit reading for us. La Niña is in place but not much has happened. Generally, during a La Niña year, we see wetter and cooler weather. Much of this drier weather is due to the ridge of high pressure that is characteristically out in the Western Pacific being much closer to the Alaskan Peninsula and Western Canada. Remember all those “air stagnation” days we had; most all of it was caused by that ridge.

Recorders show that January is our snowiest month. So, we may get some reprieve and see some additional white stuff. That’s important in this environment as we get most of moisture through snowfall. The mean snowfall for the first month of the year is 6.2 inches. Last year, 2011, we only had 3.0 inches of snow here at the home weather station (2010: 0.9 and 2009: 10.0).

Temperatures in January can be rather cold — minus 17F back in 1950. The mean temperature for January is 21.4F. Here at the home weather station the past few years, we’ve had a mix of both single- and double-digit low readings (2011: 7.7F and 2010: 17.8F). Do keep all that winter “gear” at the ready – winter isn’t over yet. Something to be pleased about is the fact that we are gaining daylight each day now that we’ve passed through Winter Solstice. The days are filling up with more light, just as Banks Lake is filling up with water.

Some 96 years ago, January 1916 was a record winter month for western Washington. High snow drifts occurred due to gusting winds and snowfall amounts of 2 to 4 feet in many places on the west side. The western part of the state was crippled as transportation was literally halted.

Lastly, the historic snowfall data chart I’m working on is nearing completion. It should be ready for next month’s column. Below are some weather highlights for the year 2011 recorded here at the home weather station:

High Temperature: 97.6F (July 26)

Low Temperature: -2.4F (Nov. 24)

Wettest Month: May – 2.41 inches

Driest Month: August – 0.00 inches

Total Precipitation for the year: 9.94 inches

Total Snowfall for the (calendar) year: 12.6 inches

 

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