Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Wettest March on Record

A lion in West Midlands Safari Park:   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Just_one_lion.jpg

They say March roars in like a lion. Well, March didn't just have a singular lion, or even an open salvo of them. It had a continuous stampede of them. They say these beasts are endangered, but after this month, I'm not so sure. There seem to be plenty to go around.

March picked up 9.44 inches of rain this month, crushing the previous record of 8.40 set back in 1950. But what I think is far more amazing is that November, December, and January summed up only 9.16 inches of rain. That's right folks; with March bringing in 9.44 inches, March got .28 inches more of rain than the stormiest three months of the year COMBINED. I cannot stress how unfathomably ridiculous this is. In my mind, this is far more incredible than breaking the record for most March rainfall. When you combine this with a wet February, it goes to show that our storm season really got started late around here.

My official winter weather outlook (exclusively on WeatherOn.net) mentioned that this winter would be hard to predict, and I'm glad I mentioned that, because I certainly couldn't have imagined this ever happening, and I doubt even the most seasoned of meteorologists could have either. When we don't know what to go with as meteorologists, we usually stick with climatological norms, as they tend to be the median values for what we could expect during a winter. The situation, however, is different when you take into account the fact that this past winter was a neutral one, and neutral winters are renowned for their inconsistency. In that winter forecast, I mentioned that the upper plains and Midwest would be cold (boy was I right about that one), the south would be warm and dry (didn't really pay attention), and the northeast had an increased probability of storms (they had a few, but I haven't done enough climatological surveys to determine whether this year was abnormal). 

Meanwhile, for the Pacific Northwest, I predicted an inconsistent winter.

This is something we can be relatively sure of. I’m not talking about day-to-day, or even week-to-week. What I’m talking about is that our winter will likely not be dominated by one pattern. Neutral winters rarely are. Instead, they are dominated by a multitude of patterns.

Please, please, hold your applause. There's a significant amount of luck that comes with forecasting. After all, being at the top demands humility.

But let’s take a look at the entire loop for the month. Our biggest systems came in on March 5th and March 15-16th, and the former dropped 1.84 inches of rain in 24 hours, our highest 24-hour total for the month. One thing that was interesting about these two storms is that whereas the mid-march storm had heavy rain and remained over our area for an entire day, the early one had extremely heavy rain while dropping the majority of rainfall over us in just a couple hours.

05:29 am PST, Wed 05 Mar 2014
It's not often that you see a big band of yellows over our area. And remember, this is a logarithmic scale, meaning that a small increase in dBZ on the left corresponds to an exponentially larger increase in precipitation rates. Those yellows represent rain falling at the rate of greater than a half-inch an hour. It doesn't take too much time to rack up 1.84 inches at that rate. We had around two to three hours of this heavy stuff, giving us over an inch, and heavy showers later in the day picked up the rest.

For April, things don't look quite as wet. The weather has been quite "seasonable" so far, and this weekend may turn out to be quite nice. I'll keep you posted.

My next post will be about our impending El Nino. It could be a Biggie.