Snow blankets La Grande
By Observer staff
Grande Ronde Valley residents, who are worried that this morning’s snowfall is the start of something big, can relax.
Significant accumulations of snow are not expected in the Grande Ronde Valley after this morning, according to National Weather Service forecasts. This may be surprising news considering that Grande Ronde Valley residents awoke to at least three inches of snow this morning. The snowfall started around 5 a.m.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a 70 percent chance of rain later today in La Grande. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 60 percent chance of rain in Enterprise later today. Enterprise began receiving significant snowfall around 9 a.m.
The high temperatures in La Grande this week are not expected to top 45 degrees. This is in sharp contrast to six weeks ago when the temperature reached the 56-degree mark on Dec. 1, the start of a month in which average temperatures were higher than normal.
Diana Hayden, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Pendleton, attributes the higher temperatures to the absence in December of a weather system bringing cold air into this region from the north.
The weather systems coming here instead came from the west, bringing milder temperatures.
“We had warmer air over the region as a result,’’ Hayden said.
In December of 2011, La Grande and all of Northeast Oregon had temperatures which were a little below average, Hayden said.
According to preliminary data received by the National Weather Service in Pendleton, the average temperature last month in La Grande was 32.9 degrees, which was 2.3 degrees above normal.
High temperatures averaged 39.3 degrees, which was 1.7 degrees above normal. The highest was 56 degrees on Dec. 1. Low temperatures averaged 26.5 degrees, which was 2.8 degrees above normal. The lowest was 15 degrees, on Dec. 19.
Last month there were 23 days with the low temperature below 32 degrees. There were four days when the high temperature stayed below 32 degrees.
Precipitation totaled 1.43 inches during December, which was 0.23 inches below normal. Measurable precipitation — at least .01 inch — was received on 10 days with the heaviest, 0.39 inches reported on Dec. 10.
Snowfall totaled 1.1 inches. The heaviest snowfall was 0.5 inches reported on Dec. 24. The greatest depth of snow on the ground was 2 inches on Dec. 27.
The outlook for January from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center calls for near normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.
Normal highs for La Grande during January are 38.4 degrees and normal lows are 24.5 degrees. The 30-year normal precipitation is 1.63 inches.