Weather Eye: New year to start off on a sunny note before rain returns

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Patrick Timm

After a brief interlude of mild temperatures and rain, we are back to a sunnier, cooler weather pattern. East winds will pick up today and continue all week as a large, cold pool of air once again builds in the Columbia Basin.

The current year ends on a sunny note, and the coming year will begin on one, too. Highs will be seasonable in the lower 40s and possibly upper 30s if enough cold air funnels down the Gorge later in the week. Then, toward the end of the week, moisture will move northward form California, bringing another chance of frozen precipitation.

That is too far out to worry about now, so enjoy the dry weather and clear skies. While it begins to cool locally, the coast will see highs near 60 or better with the offshore winds. Freezing levels will rise to 9,000 feet or so as the cold builds in lower areas and we go into an inversion pattern again.

The rain Thursday and Friday was dismal for the ski areas where 10-12 inches of snow was washed away. Only a couple inches fell as the colder air filtered in after Friday’s front. Our snow pack is running way behind normal, around 50 percent, but better in the North Cascades. No need to worry quite yet as we have a few months to catch up. So far, the first week or two in January is not looking to be on the wet side.

We still have to watch out for cold air dropping down from the north. The majority of the cold air has settled in the Midwest and off to the East Coast. Wind chills were 30 below zero in some places and feet of snow fell in less than 48 hours. Lucky for us, we are high and dry.

December will go into the record books locally as a dry month. As of Saturday afternoon, 3.14 inches had fallen. That was 3.5 inches below average. The average mean temperature was 38.6 degrees, two degrees below normal.

Have a Happy New Year!