OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

March Moistness: If it seems like the sun has been a stranger lately…

03/30/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – It’s a good thing there are lots of basketball games to watch this time of year, because this March hasn’t exactly been the best of months for outdoor activities.

Oregon has been damp and gloomy all month – even more so than usual, according to researchers at Oregon State University. In fact, there has been at least a trace of rain in Corvallis every day thus far this month, according to Kathie Dello of the Oregon Climate Service.

“As far as we can tell from scanning through records, this is the only March without a 0.00 precipitation measurement,” she said. “A trace fell on March 23, which means it was less than one-hundredths of an inch; but it’s still more than zero.”

Weather records go back more than a hundred years.

There has been a moderately strong La Niña this winter, which typically means it is wetter and cooler than normal. March weather often varies greatly, but this year, those variations have ranged from mist and drizzle, to showers and downpours – with the occasional hailstorm and thunderstorm thrown in.

As of the morning of March 30, Corvallis had received 7.69 inches of rainfall – the most since 1983, when 8.78 inches fell. Dello said regardless of what happens Thursday, it will be one of the 10 wettest months of March recorded.

“The year 2003 was also pretty relentless with rain,” she said, “with 7.52 inches overall and only two days without precipitation.”

The final four, in terms of wettest March months on record for Corvallis, include:

  • 1904: 11.70 inches;
  • 1916: 10.81 inches;
  • 1974:  8.87 inches
  • 1983:  8.78 inches

The pattern for the rest of the state isn’t much different, Dello pointed out. Portland had yet to record a temperature of 60 degrees through Wednesday, though it has reached that lofty mark a few times in the Willamette Valley.

“It’s been wet and cool everywhere,” she said. “Snowpack is above normal and Mt. Bachelor keeps getting new snow. The seasonal outlook over the next three months from NOAA’s predication center shows a chance of below-average temperatures for western Oregon, and equal chances of above-average or below-average precipitation.

“It does look like La Niña is winding down, however,” she said, “and neutral conditions are expected by early summer.”

Break out the tanning lotion.