March 31, 2011 in Washington Voices

Mann: Record-setting wet March is less than an inch away

RandyMann
 

A series of storms across the Inland Northwest may lead to the wettest March in recorded history in the Spokane area. At least 3.29 inches of moisture have fallen so far this month and more rain is forecast. The normal is about 1.53 inches.

The wettest March, since records began in 1881, was 3.81 inches set in 1995. The second wettest March observed was in 1950 with 3.75 inches of moisture. As of this writing, this year is currently in third place, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the record challenged. Although March has felt like a chilly month, the average temperature is only about 0.7 degrees below normal. We did manage to top 50 degrees on March 23 (51) and March 24 (55), which helped keep our average temperature close to normal levels.

Since Jan. 1, the airport has received about 6.81 inches of rain and melted snow. The normal is approximately 4.85 inches. In terms of snowfall, the airport has measured a total of 67.9 inches, as of early Tuesday, compared with a normal of about 45 inches.

In Coeur d’Alene, 4.83 inches of moisture has been gauged for March. The seasonal total is more than than 12 inches. Total snowfall has exceeded 100 inches for the third time in four seasons with 113.4 inches. Normal snowfall is approximately 67 inches.

Our region is not the only one dealing with wet weather. Places to the east of us from Montana to the Great Lakes region have been seeing heavy snows – up to 20 inches in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota. Severe flooding is likely in those areas later this spring.

We may still see some light flurries during the colder overnight hours into early April, but these snows should melt quickly.

La Niña is weakening in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. But, it still looks like April through the middle of May should be wetter and a bit cooler than normal. Despite the showery pattern, we will see brief periods of warmer and drier weather.

Long term, I still believe that we’ll have a warm and dry summer as La Niña is expected to finally die off. A strong stationary ridge of high pressure could build into the region by late May and last through at least early September. This should mean many days this summer with afternoon highs near or above 90 degrees. Don’t be surprised to see at least three or four afternoons with readings near or above 100.

On the downside, a hot and dry summer could lead to a tough fire season for much of the Western U.S., including the Inland Northwest.

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com.


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