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Dec. weather: Region's 5th coldest & 2nd driest

Dec. weather: Region's 5th coldest & 2nd driest

by KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwrodhill

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 2:10 AM

PORTLAND -- The precipitation numbers for the calendar year of 2013, just December, and the Mt. Hood snow pack are no where close to normal, leaving this region significantly dry. 

5th driest year at PDX

Portland's 2013 precipitation came to a just 26.72 inches, which is more than 9 inches below normal.  This marks the 5th driest year recorded at the Portland International Airport since numbers began getting tracked back in 1941.

It was also a big departure from the more than 50 inches of moisture that fell in 2012. 

The region's recent dry weather is a reminder that a dry year eventually follows a real soaker.  In other words, a period of heavy rain often is trailed by a period of dry days as the atmosphere naturally evens out the totals over time.

Notably dry December

December made the record books in two categories.  With a temperature average of 4 degrees below normal, the month is the 5th coldest on record at PDX.  The rain total of less than 2.00 inches was also the 2nd driest on record. 

Low snow pack on Mt. Hood

Up on Mt. Hood, the news is just as dry.  As of December 31st, the snow pack was recorded just over 40% of normal. The snow depth was only two feet, which translates into 10 inches of water stored. 

While it is true that the mountain has until May 1st to catch up, recent years have never finished the snow year more than 75% of normal with such a dry start. 

To date, this is the first low snow year on Mt. Hood since the winter of 2004-2005 when the snow pack finished at 44% of normal. 

The possible silver lining in the current dry report is that the region's weather seems to be showing a transition to heavier spring precipitation over the months of March and April. 

A wet spring will be needed to "right the ship."  Current forecast outlooks show below normal valley rainfall through the first two weeks of January and little confidence points toward a wet finish to winter, but as always, we will have to wait and see.

Meteorologist Rod Hill, follow me @