SEATTLE - By one measurement, winter in Washington state is the coldest in the lower 48.
That measurement is based on how far below normal we are, ranging from 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder in Western Washington to as much as 8 to 10 degrees colder in the southeastern quarter of the state. The measurements include high and low daily temperatures recorded since the beginning of January.
Contrast that to the eastern half of the U.S., which ranges from 4 to 10 degrees or more above normal. This diversion is in sharp contrast to the last several years. The eastern states suffered from the "Polar Vortex" while the west, especially California, suffered under drought. Now California deals with a winter of record rains.
"We've been below normal for the last three months," said Nick Bond of the University of Washington's Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean and Washington's official climatologist.
In fact, Bond points to the winter of 2008-09 that saw snow stick around for weeks messing with traffic. He says we've had less snow this year, and nothing that hung around for long, but the average temperatures have actually been colder in 2016-17.
As for what we experienced in late February and early March?
"The last few weeks it's been chilly, not records, and the high temperatures have been consistently below normal," said Bond.
It's not just temperature. February saw the second highest rainfall totals on record for that month.
The good news is that the snow pack is in terrific shape, the Cascades are ranging right around normal, to as much as 130 percent above normal. Oregon is 150 percent of normal. Ski season is promising to last as long as interest remains.
What if you don't want to ski and just want winter to get over with?
Bond says it's likely going to be cooler than normal for another three to four weeks. But this summer might go the other way, with long range forecasts for June, July, and August showing temperatures nearly a degree or two warmer than normal.
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