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May-10-2013 17:44printcomments

Occasional Raindrops Do Little to Address Drying State

More than 91 percent of Oregon is considered abnormally dry for this time of year.

Image: EPA

(CORVALLIS) - When Oregonians can rototill their gardens in March, but then have to water their lawns all throughout April and May, you know it’s drier than usual.

Experts say that through May 10, it has been the driest start to the year on record at the Eugene and Salem airport weather stations, and the second driest start at Hyslop Farm in Corvallis and the Medford Airport. This is the third driest start to the year for the Portland Airport station.

“We’ve seen some pretty drastic swings from very wet to very dry over the past year,” said Oregon State University’s Kathie Dello, who is the deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at OSU. “The whole West Coast has been abnormally dry. We’ve had some strong high pressure ridging, which means the storm track is sent to our north.

“When it does that, we get weather that generally results in hot days and cool nights,” Dello said, “and it is usually quite dry.”

The spring of 2012 – from March to May – was the fourth wettest on record statewide, and then things dried up quickly. The summer July to September period was the second driest on record. But the fall October to December period saw above-normal precipitation, before the transition to this spring’s dry conditions.

“It’s been pretty topsy-turvy,” Dello said. “On one hand, we built up a nice snowpack through November and December in the central and northern Cascades, but abnormally warm temperatures are melting that quickly.”

More than 91 percent of Oregon is considered abnormally dry for this time of year, Dello said, citing the U.S. Drought Monitor. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center shows that the odds favor the dry trend continuing into July.

“The biggest concern when that happens is warm, dry ground and early melting of snow,” Dello said. “That equates to fire danger. The National Interagency Fire Center is saying that fire season may begin weeks earlier than normal this year.

“And, of course, dry conditions are a concern for farmers, stream health and fish,” she added. “We have seen occasional bouts of cloudiness and sprinkles, but not enough to chase the overall pattern of dryness.”

For the record:

  • Through May 10, the Eugene Airport has received just 6.54 inches of rain, which is 14.08 inches below normal. It is the driest on record dating back to 1940.
  • The Salem Airport has had 7.65 inches of rain, driest on record back to 1928, and 9.67 inches below normal.
  • The Corvallis Hyslop station has received 8.27 inches of rain, second driest on record back to 1893 and 10.59 inches below normal. The driest on record was in 2001, when it got just 7.98 inches.
  • Medford Airport has received a scant 3.05 inches, which is 4.48 inches below normal in records dating back to 1928. The driest start to a year on record was in 1992 with 2.99 inches.
  • Portland Airport has logged 8.3 inches of precipitation, 6.55 inches before normal and third driest since 1942. The record year was in 1985, with 6.0 inches.

Weather-lovers can learn more about Oregon weather by following Dello on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/orclimatesvc. The state is also looking for volunteers to collect precipitation data. For more information, go to http://www.cocorahs.org/.

About the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences: CEOAS is internationally recognized for its faculty, research and facilities, including state-of-the-art computing infrastructure to support earth/ocean/atmosphere observation and prediction. The college is a leader in the study of the Earth as an integrated system, providing scientific understanding to complex environmental challenges.


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Anonymous May 12, 2013 1:51 pm (Pacific time)

To anon at 8:20...I dont think its over- population, I think it is those in power taking away new techonology to control the populace. They lie, cheat, murder, anything they can do to keep control. There is plenty of room, and there is plenty of food, and there are technologies that the globalists stop that could make a better world, even with the population. They dont want a successful population, they want us needy and dependant on the the few.. In fact, if you read their own books, they want us all dead, except THEM...Everything else you said tho was spot on. The globalists shut down any technology that will help humanity. Clean water, how to grow crops etc. I do not like cheney, and bush was simply a puppet stooge, but IMHO, obama is leading us right into the chinese communism agenda.

Anonymous May 12, 2013 8:20 am (Pacific time)

Yearly averages are misleading. Droughts and deluges come and go. What is now happening is a 10 to 15 year status quo on temperature, trending downward. You will see reports that the artic ice is freezing in record times, and vice versa. Our real problem is over population. Because of America's tremendous capacity to feed our people, in time we will dwarf places like China and India in population. I feel so sorry for the people living in the future. But then disease and war may intervene. It looks that way here as illegals with hate on their minds are coming here in droves. Then rain or drought will be the least of your worries. Just also think if Obama's unions order a truck strike...then the grocery stores are empty in a few days, then the SHTF big time. It's coming. By the way more carbon means better agricultural growth.

Anonymous May 11, 2013 1:37 pm (Pacific time)

Every year seems to be a bit different. Last year I hardly even noticed we had a summer, this year summer is starting early. The year before that was etc. Two years ago it snowed the first week of April. I think its just best to prepare because we dont know what nature will bring from decade to decade. I see 80% chance of rain on Monday on weather.com, but they are wrong more than they are right, but lets hope. A little rain would be nice right now. We complain about so much rain until it stops :-) p.s. if we give all our money to al gore he will fix it :-)

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