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Spring should be drier than last year

With the official beginning of spring last week, many are eagerly awaiting a longer stretch of sunshine and warmer weather.

At the Spokane International Airport, March has been drier and a bit milder than normal. A little more than 0.80 inches of moisture has fallen this month, compared to a normal of about 1.35 inches. The average temperature has been near 40 degrees. Recently, it has felt like a very chilly March, but from March 12 to 16, highs were in the 50s with a very pleasant 61 degrees on March 14. The coldest morning so far was March 23 with a reading of 22 degrees. Usually, our chilliest morning in March occurs at the beginning of the month, not toward the end.

A year ago, moisture conditions were very different. A whopping 4.56 inches of rain fell in March 2012 at the airport, which was 2.95 inches above normal. Many locations had one of the wettest Marches in recorded history. It was also much cooler than average with a reading of 38.6 degrees, compared to a normal of 40.2 degrees for the month.

In other parts of the U.S. and the world, the early portion of the spring season has been met with unusually cold and snowy weather. It’s been so wintry east of the Rockies that a prosecuting attorney in Butler County, Ohio, had called for the world-famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, to receive a death penalty for “misrepresentation of early spring.” Remember, on Feb. 2, Phil forecasted an early spring because he didn’t see his shadow.

This was obviously tongue in cheek, but many are not happy with his forecast. Fortunately for the groundhog, there is “no chance of extradition,” according to the vice president of the Punxsutawney Ground Hog Club.

Unusual late-season freezes were reported in the Great Plains. Readings dropped into the single digits in Kansas last weekend. In March 2012, farmers were planting corn in the Midwest in record 80 degree temperatures.

In other parts of the world, heavy snows have plagued Scotland and northern England. In Italy, a bicycle race was shortened by 33 miles because of heavy snowfall.

In terms of our local weather, I still see a pattern of occasional showers along with periods of sun. Our area sees plenty of moisture in the spring as the jet stream moves northward from California. However, we likely won’t have as much rain as in 2012.

The upcoming summer season looks very good as sea-surface temperatures continue to be in-between the warmer El Niño and cooler La Niña.

It’s possible that we may see a twister in the Inland Northwest during the spring or early summer season as thunderstorm forecasts are expected to be higher than normal. Stay tuned.