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By Bob Valen 

This cool, damp weather will change, really


Yep, I’ve heard the comments: “When will it warm up; when will it stop raining?” It will, really.

This spring seems to be similar to last year’s in some ways — cool and damp. Given where we live, let’s be thankful for the rain, certainly for the snowpack too.

To our north, northeast and northwest the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) numbers are looking good for our region. Snow Water Equivalent means the amount of water contained within the snowpack.

As of mid-April, Moses Mountain had 51 inches of snow and an SWE of 20 inches. Eventually, of all the snow we see on regional peaks, most will melt off, an annual occurrence all the way up along the Columbia River into Canada. Our daily reminder of this annual event is the water level of Lake Roosevelt.

As warmer temperatures creep in, snow melts away and heavy rains fall, flooding can become an issue. In areas that have burned and lack the soil holding ability that rooted plants afford, catastrophic flash flooding may occur. Just last month our governor declared a state of emergency for 20 counties based on flooding. One county was Spokane. With continued rains and snowmelt, we will likely see more flooding. The dangers associated with flooding are many, especially in areas that have recently experienced wildfires. We saw some extreme flooding events in Southern California in the Santa Barbara area, leading to lives and homes lost. Major roadways closed for weeks, as well.

The Climate Prediction Center shows some changes for our region of the nation. For April, May and June the CPC is showing an equal chance of below- or above-average temperatures, as well as precipitation. The last time I wrote about the CPC they were showing cool and wet for March, April and May. It appears we are moving away from that trend — change is good, right? Yes, of course, it is good.

Here are the numbers for March, as measured at my home weather station: We had a low temperature of 22.2˚F on the 12th of the month (all-time low was 0˚F in 1955, and the all time mean low is 20˚F). The high temperature was 64.5˚F on the 30th of the month (all-time high was 74˚F in 1942 and the all-time-high mean is 64˚F). The mean for the month was 40.6˚F (the all-time mean is 41.2˚F). We measured 0.94 inches of precipitation, with a mix of rain and snow. The official weather station for our area measured 1.4 inches. The all-time mean precipitation is 0.89 inches, while the all-time maximum record is 4.13 inches in 2012.

Watch for a full moon on April 29. There are five planets visible during April — Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. Mars and Saturn are seen in the late-night April sky to the southeast. Mars is especially bright.

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