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By Bob Valen 

February starts with more air stagnation

Weather Watcher

 


Finally, we got some respectable snowfall in January. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The freezing rain on the other hand, is another matter. Here at the home weather station we had a total of 9.9 inches of snow with a total of 1.10 inch of precipitation. Looking back at the last few years this is it how we measured up: 2010 - 0.9 inch of snow and 1.33 inches of precipitation, 2009 - 10.0 inches of snow with 0.84 inches of precipitation. The mean amounts for January are: snowfall 6.2 inches and precipitation 1.08 inches. Well, we are in February now and under an Air Stagnation Advisory issued by the National Weather Service. History shows us to be prepared for a continued wet trend. In our dry environment we can always use it. The mean snowfall for February is 2.5 inches (record high occurred in 1959 of 17.1 inches) and 0.92 inches of precipitation (with a record high in 1940 of 3.58 inches). Temperatures should begin to moderate just a bit. Yet, extremes are there in our history just like January. We experienced an all-time record high of 61°F in 1995 and a record low of minus 15°F in 1950. By the way, I don’t put much stock in animal shadows. So, no words here about Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil; wishing him all the luck of course. Sixteen years ago, in 1996, Washington, Oregon and Idaho experienced major flooding. Western and Southeastern Washington state, Northern Idaho and most all of Oregon saw flooding. Three people lost their lives here in Washington and close to $1 billion in damages occurred throughout the three states. Depending on amount of snowpack, warming late winter temperatures along with late winter rain storms, flooding is something that all communities must be prepared for and address here in the Northwest. The sky has been clear of late, so I’ll start mentioning some of the great opportunities for night sky watching. Because of cloud cover, we’ve missed some of the recent night “light shows” (a great replacement for the laser lights on the dam). I’m speaking of course of the northern lights or aurora borealis. The sun has been relatively active lately shooting off great solar flares that collide with Earth’s magnetic field creating this beauty in our night sky. You can get “aurora alerts” direct to your email account from the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute. Expect a full moon on Feb. 7 and watch for a very bright Jupiter in the southwestern evening sky. Mars will begin to rise around mid-month in the early night.

 

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