Closing the book on the weather of 2018: Was it really as dry a year as it seemed to be...?

On December 31 the "book of weather" closed on Inner Southeast. And what did the precipitation add up to, in a year that seemed unusually dry and warm? 35.35", as measured daily at our Westmoreland rain gauge. That compares to 52.28" the year before.

So was it abnormally dry? Compared to the last four years, it sure was – 52.28", 2017; 51.89", 2016; 47.09", 2015; and 46.01", 2015. But, we only got a total of 28.89" in 2013.

It was also dryer than our current 20-year running average, which is 41.63". However there have been five years in the last twenty that were dryer – 2013's 28.89"; 32.11" in 2004; 30.04" in 2002; 29.67" in 2001; and 30.01" in 2000. In fact, if there were one period when fear of a much dryer Southeast Portland seemed legitimate, it was during that run from 2000 to 2004 – when four of the five years were below our 2018 total!

There is a comforting trend in these – over the last twenty years here we have been trending toward wetter years, even with 2018's total in the mix:

1999-2003 average: 34.73"

2004-2008 average: 39.68"

2009-2013 average: 45.62"

2014-2018 average: 46.52"

So, it appears, the general climatological trend recently has leaned toward progressively wetter-weather years, with occasional interruptions – and there seems to be no reason to fear Inner Southeast will be shriveling up anytime soon. Here are highlights of 2018 in Inner Southeast:

· There were only three days with over one inch of precipitation last year, which is fewer than usual  1.84 on April 8; 1.65 on October 28; and 1.15 on December 18  but just those three days added up to 4.64, or 13% of our annual total.

· We didnt have much snow last year, but what we did get was all in February: A dusting of snow overnight on February 19; a quick-melting morning snow on February 20; 2.5 inches of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. on February 21; and 1.75 of snow on the ground at 7 a.m. on February 22. None of it lasted long.

· Our .20 precipitation total in May  just one fifth of one inch  made it the driest May in the last 20 years here; but we did have three other Mays in that time that came in under an inch, so it was not that much of an outlier.

And now we are in 2019. No hints yet how wet this year will turn out to be, but well tell you next year. And this month, who knows, we might even have a snow day. Maybe.

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