March 07, 2014

Spring Warmth of the Columbia Basin

Although meteorological spring generally arrives in western Washington in late February, with major windstorms, snowstorms, floods and the like becoming far less common,  real warmth and sun is often months away.   The west side of the Cascades seemingly takes FOREVER to consistently reach into the 60s and for consistent clouds to make way for warm-season sun.

But we are lucky to have an escape route starting around March 1:  a short trip to the Columbia Basin of eastern Washington.  As shown in today's visible satellite photo, skies are severe clear there right now, with temperature pushing into the mid-60s.

The Columbia Basin is not a pleasant place during midwinter, particularly mid-November to early February, since cold, foggy air tends to settle into the lower elevations.  But by the end of February, the sun is strong enough to reliably mix out the cold air, and cold, frigid air temperatures before 20F become a rarity.  Here are the average highs and lows for Hanford, Washington, with the color shades indicating the range of observed values.  Something magical happens around March 1st, with very few excursions below 25F and average highs around 60F.  Sounds like spring to me.

Here is the average relative humidity at Hanford:  the blue is the average high and the red line is the average low.  Amazing drying (70 to 30%) in February and March, particularly in the daily low relative humidity, which tends to occur during the warmest part of the day.  Forget the fog.

Average probability of precipitation?  A major drop from 41% to about 28% in January and February.

Probability of snow?  By the end of March you can pretty much forget it!
So if you are tired of the slow warm up, drying, and increasing sun west of the Cascades, relief is close at hand--a few hours  drive on I90, SR2, or I84 will get you to the land of springtime warmth and sun.

This blog is not sponsored by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

1 comment:

  1. Do they really have a slight chance of snow into July or is that just statistical clutter of some sort?


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