Yes – it WAS a wet first quarter in 2011!
Inner Southeast Portland has had wet first quarters before. In fact, the January through March period tends to be our wettest period each year.
But, since THE BEE started keeping rainfall records in Westmoreland fourteen years ago, there has not been a first quarter in which each of those three months got progressively WETTER - until 2011.
This year, January's rainfall total was an unspectacular 4.96 inches (January is often our wettest month of the year. Five inches is about average here for January, at least in the recent past - and in 2006, the January total we measured was a drenching 10.64 inches!
Our February rainfall was only slightly higher this year - 5.05 inches. It is not uncommon for February to be the driest of the three months in Inner Southeast; two years ago we tallied only 1.98 inches in February, between a January of 5.84 inches and a March of 4.51 inches, and the February total for 2005 was a paltry .99 inches.
But the news this year was the 8.00 inches of rain we measured in March - considerably more than was officially measured at the Portland International Airport, where the city's official measurements are made. The airport's location right on the Columbia River often results in weather that is different there compared to the rest of the metropolitan area.
Not only did that eight inches in March make it the wettest of our first three months, but it was the wettest March since we started keeping records. The only March to approach it was March of 1997, the first month we started keeping these records - and that March added up to 7.22 inches. The next highest March total here since then was 2003's 6.19 inches.
As for the three month total, 2011's total came out on top since the turn of the 21st Century, but not by much:
2011 - 18.01'
2010 - 16.07'
2009 - 12.33'
2008 - 15.54'
2007 - 12.90'
2006 - 15.98'
2005 - 7.18'
2004 - 11.91'
2003 - 17.46'
2002 - 12.28'
2001 - 7.21'
There doesn't seem much to learn about years as a whole from what the first quarter records; 2005 ended up with a pretty average annual total - 40.99 inches - while 2004 ended as a dry year, with only 32.11 inches of rain for the twelve month period here.
However, based at least upon what we saw this year, there may be one rule we can learn: When March is really wet - and especially when it is the wettest of the first three months of a year - look out for landslides around Oaks Bottom!