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By Bob Valen 

Wet, wetter and wettest

Weather Watcher


We certainly aren’t seeing the amount of rainfall that the Olympic Peninsula receives with an annual average of 140 inches a year. Yet, we have been wet here in our region of the state. With all that rain and melt-off, things do happen — flooding, mudslides, roads washed out and crop planting delays.

The folks at the National Weather Service office in Spokane stated this: “A combination of abundant late winter snow, heavy rain from several wet Pacific storms, and near-seasonal temperatures, led to the melting of the low-level snow pack, increased runoff and the flooding across southeast Washington and the southern Idaho Panhandle. Reports of flooded fields and roads, sink holes, mudslides and high flows on area rivers have been common in the last several weeks. Anticipate continued issues with flooding as the mountain snow melts and milder spring temperatures arrive.”

So, how wet has it been, you ask? Here at the home weather station we’ve measured 8.75 inches of precipitation this year through May 8. I checked the weather records for the past 20 years of our official weather station, which is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. I looked at the first four months of those past years: January, February, March and April. I had to throw three years out due to incomplete reports. Of the remaining 17 years, three years were rather wet for this timeframe — 2006 with 6.06 inches, 2012 with 6.79 inches, and 2017 with 7.42 inches. It’s looking like 2017 is, at least thus far, a wet year. Remember, our annual average precipitation is 10.55 inches.

The Climate Prediction Center is showing that for June, July and August, we have about a 40-percent chance of higher-than-normal temperatures and an equal chance of above- or below-normal precipitation. Keep gathering that weather data and see if those predictions are correct or just predictions.

As for the other weather data from my home weather station, the high temperature for April was 66.1˚F on the 28th. The low was 28.5˚F on the 10th. The mean for the month was 48.5˚F, while the all-time mean for our area is 50.0˚F. Precipitation for the month was 2.25 inches, which broke our official record of 2.19 inches, set back in 1993. Of course, my station is not the official station; hence, no record. For those who must know, the official station measured 1.78 inches for April.

The sky has cleared; it’s time to turn your eyes to the night sky and witness its grandeur. Our friends at EarthSky have this to share: “Three of the five bright planets are easy to see in the May 2017 night sky: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. Jupiter appears first thing at dusk and shines nearly all night long. Saturn rises into the southeast sky at mid-to-late evening and then stays out for the rest of the night. Venus rises over the eastern horizon as the pre-dawn darkness is giving way to morning dawn. Mars and Mercury present more of a challenge this month, as Mars is somewhat obscured by evening dusk and Mercury by morning dawn.”

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