Weather Eye: Winter officially starts Wednesday
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Wednesday brings the official start of winter at 9:30 p.m., although us weather folks have been digesting this since Dec. 1. Regardless, there hasn’t really been much of winter weather this month other than the chilly temperatures.
Appears we are in the giant rain shadow of high pressure out in the Pacific. There are areas in the desert Southwest that have had more rain than us as of Dec. 18. Imagine that. How about Lancaster, Calif., with 0.36 of an inch; Phoenix, 1.10 inches; and Imperial, Calif., 0.38 of an inch. Vancouver’s rainfall so far this month is only 0.20 of an inch. Of course, there are drier locations — Death Valley, Calif., had 0.03 of an inch, Thermal, Calif., 0.07 of an inch and Las Vegas, 0.14 of an inch. Odd, isn’t it?
Despite our faint spattering of rainfall this month we certainly haven’t seen many hours of sunshine. Lots of low clouds and fog, except the coast and higher elevations have enjoyed much better weather than us in the lowlands. There are locations where it is worse than Clark County — such as in Oregon’s Willamette Valley from Albany to Eugene — that have probably seen fewer hours of sunlight than us because we get some occasional bouts of east winds through the Gorge.
So I am sitting here in front of the fireplace warm and cozy writing this column and still I cannot see a sure-fire change in our weather. Some forecast models indicate that the day after Christmas things will get going and maybe, just maybe, the La Niña Express starts rolling down the tracks again. Christmas Day may be dry or may be wet, depending if anything breaks through the high pressure.
Our early-season snowpack is depleting rapidly and most of the Oregon Cascades are at only one-half of normal. The Washington Cascades range from about two-thirds of normal in the south to near normal in the north. Of course we all know just how fast that can change. Just look back to February through April this year.
It would be nice to see some sunshine. Steve Martin once said, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” What else can I say? Enjoy your week.
Patrick Timm is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at http://weathersystems.com.