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Will 2018 be drier than 2017 was in Inner Southeast? No firm signal yet, bit it may well be

ERIC NORBERG - The snow and sleet mix in Inner Southeast on Christmas Eve added up to only a quarter inch at most, but it was enough for someone to sculpt a snow angel in a Westmoreland Street that night. Will there be any more snow this year? Since the first full year we began keeping daily precipitation readings – 1998 – the year 2017 was the third wettest of the two decades. That surprised us – we'd recorded only .11 inch of rain between June 1 and July 31, and the year ended with a December having twelve days with no precipitation at all, and a monthly total of only 3.98 inches in our Westmoreland gauge.

Nonetheless, largely on the strength of a very wet February, in which 11.76 inches of rain fell in only 28 days (42% of it in just three days), our annual total for 2017 – 52.28" – squeaked by 2016's 51.89", and was bested only by 2010's 56.04" and 2012's 59.29".

To provide context, several of the years in those two decades tallied much less – The year 2000 put only 30.01" in the gauge, and 2001 came in even a little lower: 29.67". But something in the low 40's would be more typical of what we expect here each year.

The wettest days of 2017, in order, were:

February 5 – 1.96"

February 16 – 1.81"

October 22 – 1.58"

February 9 – 1.20"

September 20 – 1.18"

November 20 – 1.01"

November 15 – 1.00"

Our daily readings are taken at 4 p.m., and thus may vary from those in the area taken from midnight to midnight, or at some other time each day by weather observers.

Weather highlights of 2017 came early – with a little snow on January 8 and 10, and then eight inches of snow on the evening of January 11, sticking around for a few days because of below-freezing temperatures.

High temperatures began with 70 degrees on April 21 and 86 degrees on May 3; the summer was hot, highlighted by 98 degrees on June 24, 96 on August 4, and 90 degrees in Southeast on August 21 – the day of the total solar eclipse! The Weather Bureau proclaimed this August the hottest-ever August at the airport.

Smoke was an issue here from the end of July through August 10, from fires burning to the north in Canada; smoke returned on September 3, accompanied by ash, from the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, and smoke continued intermittently in Southeast Portland through September 16.

The year ended with an unforecast "White Christmas Eve" and following morning – with a mixture of snow and sleet. But as noted, December ended with only 3.98" of precipitation, so it is possible the first half of 2018 may be a bit drier than we had in 2016 and 2017. Just a guess. We'll see what happens.

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