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It’s been a miserable couple of months for umbrella salesmen in many parts of Europe.

After a fairly wet January, the months of February and March featured more sunny days — and higher temperatures in some countries — than normal. And very little rain.

A light rainfall Monday at Aviano Air Base, Italy, broke a 54-day drought. But the 0.01 of an inch that fell wasn’t enough to keep it from being the driest March at the base since the Air Force started keeping records in 1956.

Staff Sgt. Laurie Kline, a weather forecaster for the 31st Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight, said the average for March is 5.5 inches.

The previous low was 0.4 of an inch.

“Just based on the last two months, we’re down eight inches,” said Capt. Mike McAleenan.

February’s total — all one-half inch coming on Feb. 4 — was far below the average of 3.4 inches. That came after a rainfall total for January that was a bit above average (3.9 inches against an average of 2.7).

It’s been a similar situation to the north.

A German climatologist who works for the Air Force’s Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach Air Base — which tracks conditions across the continent — said the past two months have been unusually dry and warm in much of Germany.

March saw only 20 percent to 30 percent of the rainfall that normally falls in the area around Ramstein Air Base, he said. And February saw only about one-third of its average precipitation.

But the forecaster, who declined to provide his full name, said people aren’t unhappy. Especially since the average temperature for March was about 4 degrees Celsius — about 7 degrees Fahrenheit — warmer than average.

“I haven’t heard any complaints from farmers and they’re the first ones to complain,” he said.

Germany has seen plenty of rain, and extensive flooding, in recent years. Last year’s rainfall — and a rate in January 63 percent above normal — got the groundwater level up fairly high.

And with rain projected to fall again soon in Germany, at least for a few days, it’s put some worries to rest.

“This will take off the threat of a drought,” the forecaster said. He said it looks as if much of the last part of April in Germany and the United Kingdom will be dry again.

The United Kingdom and Germany often get their weather blown in from the east. So storms that dump rain or snow on the East Coast of the States often travel over the Atlantic Ocean to England, then slide down into Germany. But the Alps tend to blunt much of the impact of the storms before they reach communities in northern Italy, Kline said.

“A lot of times Germany will get clobbered with snow or rain, but we won’t get anything, because the Alps protect us,” Kline said.

Many of Aviano’s storms come from the south, when high pressure systems develop off the coast of Genoa. That’s projected to be the case over the next few days, when some rain is expected to fall. It will likely bring with it a lot of dust particles picked up in northern Africa, a phenomenon that some call “dirty rain.”

So the weather might be more suited for umbrella salesmen in the near future. And those running car washes can expect brisk business, too.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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