NASELLE - It might not have seemed like it, but the December rainfall for the Naselle area was only a bit above average. The December total rainfall, as measured at the Naselle Fish Hatchery, was 19.63 inches.

That amount is 1.83 inches more than the 24-year December average of 17.80 inches as measured by the hatchery's rain gauge. The above-average December precipitation broke a string of five straight months of below average rainfall.

The year's total rainfall came in at 95.78 inches, 2.66 inches below the 23-year average of 98.44 inches. The year 2002 was the seventh driest year since the hatchery began keeping records in June 1979. The driest year was 1985 with 75.27 inches; the wettest year was 1999 with 144.35 inches.

While the rainfall didn't come in any huge storm events, it was steady. There were only six December days with no rainfall. There were three days, spaced apart in three different storms, when the daily rainfall exceeded two inches. The month's highest one day total was 2.70 inches on Dec. 11. Over 12 inches of rain fell in one ten day period, from Dec. 10 through Dec. 19.

December was a mild month with two days in the 60s, and a high of 64 F on the first day of the month. Eighteen days had temperatures in the 50s. There were only four nights when the thermometer dipped below freezing, with a low of 29 F on two successive nights.

The rainfall year total, since Oct. 1, 2002, is 37.84 inches, somewhat behind the three month average of 45.07 inches. While that lower total doesn't have an immediate impact on the local area, the snow pack in the Cascade Mountains, near Mt. Hood, is already measured only at around 40 percent of normal. Some quick and steady snowfall/rainfall is needed in the remaining winter months to alleviate all sorts of problems next summer.

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