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By Bob Valen 

Relief, a wet December

Weather Watcher


One would think with all the precipitation we had in December the drought we experienced in 2015 would be placed in the history books. Well, not just yet according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Looks like we’ll have to see more wetness before we are officially out of drought conditions.

El Niño is still in place. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is stating that it will likely be in place until at least late spring or early summer. It’s not fully clear if this particular El Niño is affecting our weather here in the Pacific Northwest. Historically, a strong El Niño, which this one has been classified as, has affected our part of the country. All El Niños affect global weather.

The Climate Prediction Center is still showing warmer-than-average temperatures, though; they have adjusted precipitation now to show just slightly below average. This prediction is for the next 75 days.

December 2015 was a wet month with a good amount of rain; then snow began to arrive. The table shows December’s snowfall and precipitation amounts for the past eight years. These measurements are from my home weather station.

December 2008–2015


2008 Precipitation

1.25” Snowfall


2009 0.81” 2.6”

2010 1.45” 7.8”

2011 0.49” 1.3”

2012 2.13” 6.4”

2013 0.15” 0.8”

2014 1.26” T

2015 4.08” 10.7”

As stated in the table, the home weather station received 4.08 inches of precipitation. If this measurement had been from the official station for our region, the 3.44-inch record would have been beaten. The record still stands, as the official station received 3.23 inches.

The 10.7 inches of snowfall is good, not a record. The record occurred in 1964, when 27.8 inches fell.

Temperatures were not too cold for December. The high was 56.9˚F (record is 58˚F, 1936) and the low was 8˚F (record is -16˚F, 1968). The mean for the month was 31.7˚, which is 2.2˚F above the all-time mean for December of 29.5˚F.

Let’s turn our eyes to the sky and hope we have some clear nights for observations. Early in the morning Saturday, Jan. 9, Venus and Saturn will be very close to one another in the pre-dawn and dawn sky. They will be as close as one-sixth of the moon’s diameter. This will be the closest conjunction of two planets in about three years. 

A full moon, or “Wolf Moon,” will occur Jan. 24. On Jan. 27, as seen from around the world, the gibbous moon will shine closer to the giant planet Jupiter. Watch these two bright objects climb over the eastern horizon a few to many hours after sunset.

Lastly, Jan. 31, the moon will be at the vicinity of its last quarter phase as the moon and Mars rise over the eastern horizon late that night. If you aren’t up late, you can view the moon and Mars before dawn on Feb. 1, in the south or southeast sky.

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