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By Bob Valen 

March on the dry side

Weather Watcher


The mean precipitation for March was 0.82 inches, though here at the home weather station we only received 0.36 inch, a huge variance from last year’s March total of 2.64 inches. What a difference a year makes, hey.

Temperature-wise, this March we had a mean of 42.5°F (41.1°F mean) with a monthly low of 22.2°F (record low 0.0°F) accompanied by a monthly high of 71.6°F (record 74.0°F). So, we were off by a half inch in precipitation and generally near averages for temperatures.

As I write this month’s column, we’ve had a good amount of rain, in fact almost near the mean for April (0.82 inch mean) as we’ve accumulated 0.80 inch. That’s good for our gardens. As we continue into the month, the Climate Prediction Center, an office in the National Weather Service, isn’t taking any chances with the Pacific Northwest. Here’s what their April prediction states: “Average, or, above or below normal.” Not a whole lot to hang your hat on, folks.

As has been stated in this column before, April can be a threatening weather month here in Washington. Back in April, 1972, Washington was hit hard with severe weather. An F3 tornado touched down in Vancouver. This tornado swept through a grocery store, bowling alley, and grade school near what is the Vancouver Mall today. There were six deaths and 300 injured; Washington led the nation in tornado deaths that year. Total damage was 50 million dollars. Later that day, another F3 tornado touched down west of Spokane and an F2 tornado struck rural Stevens County. Several severe thunderstorms with large hail and damaging winds were reported over other areas of Eastern Washington.

Looking skyward at night, expect a full moon on April 25. Only two of our major planets will show themselves nicely this month. Both Jupiter and Saturn will be visible, with Jupiter being the brightest of the two and visible in the west, while Saturn is visible in the east sky. If you have the proper viewing equipment, a 3- or 4-inch telescope, look for the rather bright asteroid called Vesta toward the end of April. Specifically, on the evening of April 29, the magnitude 8.4 asteroid passes directly in front of NGC 2158 (an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Gemini). Asteroid Vesta is a planet killer at 326 miles in diameter.

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