PROSSER, Wash. — January weather behaved like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Uneventful conditions prevailed during the first half of the month followed by winter weather that came in a vengeance in mid January. “The series of high impact winter storms that affected Washington beginning on January 18 produced a variety of hazards that included heavy snowfall, significant ice accumulations, cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding, and wind,” said AgWeatherNet meteorologist Nic Loyd. Heavy precipitation also shored up the region’s snow pack, giving Washington growers a reason to heave a sign of relief.
Up to 17 inches of snow fell in western Washington in the Centralia area in less than 24 hours, while heavy snow also fell in much of eastern Washington on Jan. 18. The following day brought significant ice accumulations to some locations; freezing rain fell for much of the day in the Tri-Cities, while up to an inch of ice coated the east Puget Sound lowlands. Strong northeast winds and cold temperatures caused bitter wind chills in the Bellingham area.
Warmer temperatures and heavy rain then led to flooding by Jan. 20 in parts of western Washington. In some areas east of the Cascades snow fell for several days, leaving places from Yakima to Wenatchee with a foot or more of snow on the ground by Jan. 22. Some areas in the Cascades received up to eight feet of snow during the active weather period of Jan. 14 – 23, which is good news for the water supply and for Washington farmers.
“Heavy mountain snowfall during the third week of January caused a dramatic improvement in what had been a dangerously low snowpack earlier in the month,” said AgWeatherNet director Gerrit Hoogenboom. January ended with a return of milder and relatively tranquil conditions. Overall, only seven to ten days featured active weather in Washington during the month of January.
For more information on the January winter storms, please see the January Weather Review on the AgWeatherNet website, www.weather.wsu.edu, located under the News link. A Web-based, publicly available system, AgWeatherNet provides access to near real-time weather data and value-added products from WSU’s statewide weather network, along with decision aids for agricultural producers and other users.