Photos by Robert Hubner and Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services
PULLMAN – Unusually early springlike weather draws students across the Pullman campus out to enjoy the sunshine.
However, this year’s weather means snow is a rare commodity throughout the Northwest, leaving climatologists and natural resource officials nervous.
Snow moisture map courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculuture
Top 10 warmest on record
The region’s warm winter temperatures are being attributed to moderate El Niño conditions that are present in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The average temperature for January for many locations in Washington broke into the top 10 warmest in recorded history, according to the February report from the Office of the Washington State Climatologist (OWSC).
The report noted: Even though precipitation was normal or above normal for a majority of the lower elevation sites in Washington, the mountains (with the exception of the Olympics) received below normal precipitation. The Olympic Mountains still have above normal snow water equivalent (114% of normal), but the rest of the state is below normal. A combination of the dry December and the dry January for the Cascades has put the snow water equivalent between 54 and 87% of normal for this time of year.
The Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook does not look promising for catching up to normal levels.
Here are a few of the average January temperatures for the state provided by OWSC:
- SeaTac Airport was 47.0°F, ranking as the warmest January on record since 1891, and 6.1°F above the normal average January temperature.
- Bellingham’s January average temperature (45.3°F) tied 1986 for the warmest January since records began in 1949.
- Olympia (43.7°F), Quillayute (46.3°F), and Hoquiam (46.5°F) all ranked as the second warmest January since records began in 1948, 1966, and 1953, respectively.
- Eastern Washington was also warmer than normal in January
- Walla Walla (41.6°F) ranked as the 6th warmest since 1949.
- Spokane (35.1°F) and Yakima (36.0°F) both ranked as the 8th warmest January since 1881
and 1946, respectively.
Wenatchee (34.2°F) ranked as the 12th warmest since 1931
This week’s forecast