NASELLE - If the rest of 2004 follows the pattern set during April and the previous three months, we could be in for a very dry year in the Pacific Northwest.

The April rainfall measurement, as recorded at the Naselle Fish Hatchery, was only 4.31 inches, nearly five inches below the 24-year April average of 9.24 inches. The dry trend continued the pattern set since the first of the year. The four months' total rainfall of 40.68 inches is more than 13 inches short of the four-month average of 53.99 inches.

The total is also well behind last year's first four month's total of 60.72 inches. This year's four-month total is within an inch of the year 2000 first four month's total of 39.97 inches. That year had the lowest total yearly rainfall in the last 24 years, 82.90 inches.

The rain year total, since Oct. 1, 2003, is 88.33 inches, nearly 11 inches behind the average of 99.06 inches for that period.

With all indicators pointing to a dry year, April was the third driest April in the last 24 years. April 1992 holds the low record at 1.99 inches. In contrast, April 2003 recorded 10.09 inches. Even with little precipitation, there still were only 13 totally dry days. The wettest day, on April 21, saw 1.18 inches land in the rain bucket.

The next five months, May through September, will determine just how dry it will be. On the average, a little over 16 inches of rain can be expected during that time. However, even during the driest year of 2000, over 18 inches fell during those five normally drier months. That year, only three months recorded double digit rainfall. This year, 2004, has already had two months in double digits, but they were behind the average for the month.

Ah yes, but the temperature has to be the definite upside of the weather picture. April and early May were nearly summer-like with several days of high, if not record, early year temperatures.

A high of 89 was reached on April 27. Six April days were in the 80s, five days in the 70s, and seven days in the 60s. Warm weather beginning April 26 continued into the first few days of May with a warm spell ranging from the high 70s to mid-80 degree readings for eight days. Just to remind us that it still isn't summer, there were four nights, early in the month, when the temperature dipped below freezing, to a low of 29.

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