Wintry weather keeps spring on hold

Change of seasons will be reflected solely on calendar

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter

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Spring officially begins next Tuesday, but you wouldn’t know it by stepping outside this week.

A potent mix of wind, rain and snow hammered the Northwest on Monday and early Tuesday, delivering a weather pattern that felt more like January than mid-March. The wintry punch came less than a week after Vancouver enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures well above 60 degrees.

That taste of spring didn’t last long.

“We’re in a transitional period right now where we still do have some winter weather,” said Jeremiah Pyle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

This week’s late-season storm produced some impressive numbers in Washington and Oregon. In Clark County, Hockinson saw 6 inches of snow on the ground, Pyle said. Nine inches fell at Livingston Mountain near Camas. Some Vancouver residents also woke up to snow outside their front doors Tuesday morning.

Several Clark County school districts had late starts Tuesday. The Washougal School District closed entirely.

Parts of the Oregon Coast piled up more than 8 inches of snow, Pyle said. Before Monday and Tuesday, you’d have to go all the way back to 1951 to find those kinds of snow totals on the coast this late in the year, according to Columbian weather blogger Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society.

This week’s storm also produced winds above 80 mph. Pacific County recorded a gust of 83 mph Monday, Pyle said.

Those wild conditions aren’t typical for March, but they’re not unheard of, either, Pyle said. It’s too early to say when the weather will shift for good, he said.

For next several days, the forecast resembles winter more than spring. Rain is expected to linger at least until this weekend, with high temperatures staying mostly in the 40s, according to the weather service.

In other words, don’t expect the change of seasons to arrive early.

“The transition is not going to happen this week,” Pyle said.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.

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