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It's official: March all wet

71-year record broken as month ends

Hours before the end of month, March here officially became the wettest on record since rainfall totals began being taken at the Portland Internation Airport in 1940.

With more rain predicted on the way, the airport recorded 7.77 inches of rain in March as of 8 a.m., surpassing all totals for the last 71 years.

"The average monthly rainfall in Portland during the month of March is 3.68 inches. The previous all-time record rainfall for the month of March at the Portland airport was 7.52 inches set in 1957," says Steve Pierce, president of the Oregon chapter of the American Meterological Society.

"Looking back even further, downtown Portland records pre-date the airport and go back to 1871. When taking these into consideration, this is the wettest March since 1931, when 8.12 inches fell. The all-time wettest March on record in downtown Portland is a whopping 12.76 inches set in 1873," adds Pierce.

Here are some additional noteworthy facts about the March 2012 precipitation in Portland:

• March 2012 was more than three times wetter than December 2011, when just 2.51 inches of precipitation fell.

• March 2012 was the third wettest month in Portland in the past five years. November 2006 recorded 11.92 inches and December of 2010 recorded 8.35 inches of precipitation.

• Portland has now set new all-time record wettest monthly rainfall totals at the airport on three different months in just the past five years. June 2010 set a new all-time monthly record with 4.27 inches. In November 2006 a new monthly all-time record was set with 11.92 inches of precipitation.

"Not only is it wet, but it is also quite cold in Portland as of late. Calendar year 2011 saw the coldest annual average temperature in Portland since 1985, at just 52.9 degrees. The average temperature for March in Portland so far is just 44.8 degrees, which is currently the coldest March since 1976," says Pierce.

And the wet and cold weather could continue.

"We are in the final months of what has been a multi-year La Nina, coupled with what is all but certain to be a new long term cold phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These two factors combined can lead to wetter and cooler than normal winters and springs, on average."