As the year draws to a close here on the North Coast, a frigid air mass to our east is locked in losing battle with the marine layer for supremacy. With the exception of Astoria, most of the communities along the coast have been spared snow since the weekend. While more is predicted for this week, it looks as though the arctic air will soon move to east and allow our communities to travel and communicate with those on the other side of the Coast Range.
So far, our new water year (October 2008 to October 2009) started out mild and relatively dry. While cold, December precipitation has now topped only 7 inches, still nearly half of the average for the month. Year to date, we have only received 65 inches vs. our normal 90 inches. Since November has been only one major flood event on North Coast streams and that event paled in comparison to 1996, 2006 and 2007 floods. According to the National Climate Prediction Center, ocean and atmospheric conditions on the west coast of North America have a 50% probability of being affected by mild La Niña status, meaning a tendency to be cooler and wetter than normal. So far, the former is partly true but we have yet to see the wetter conditions that sometimes come with a mild La Niña.
While the 2007-2008 water year saw significant flooding events–including the Great Coastal Gale of 2007–precipitation totals are still at least 16 inches below normal. Compared to this time last year, the North Coast is relatively dry and mild.
H2ONC will take a holiday break until the new calendar year. I hope that everyone reading this will have a happy, safe, and restful time spent with family and friends.