The Many Things That Oregon Doesn’t Have

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500 year flood Elmira, NY
Blizzard of 1966 shoveling driveway
Blizzard of 1966
shoveling driveway

My family and I arrived at the rainy Eugene Airport at 9:30 PM Wednesday January 22, 1992. It was dark and we didn’t get much of a “feel” for the area other than seeing the city lights. When my wife and I awoke Thursday morning I slid open the drapes and we looked at the beautiful sun blanketed Coburg Hills. My wife and I uttered the same words simultaneously: “We’re Home.”

We have lived all over the country and decided 21 years ago to adopt Oregon and specifically the Eugene-Springfield area as our home. I have heard many people over these years extol the virtues  of living in Western Oregon, but I am overwhelmed with all of the things that Oregon doesn’t have.

500 year flood Elmira, NY
500 year flood
Elmira, NY

I grew up in Rochester, New York and had to struggle shoveling snow ( worst storm I remember in 1966 produced nearly 4 feet of snow in about 36 hours) for about five months of the year with brutal winters, then sweating with very warm temperatures and high humidities all summer long. We don’t have that here. In Western Oregon when the humidity is high it is most probably raining or at least getting ready to rain. We all know that even the worst of winter storms here (1969 comes to mind) will only cause problems for a few days to a week at most.

I lived in Elmira, New York in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes (weakened to a Tropical Depression) decided not to go along the coast to the Canadian Maritimes to die as it should have, but it made a left turn and actually moved directly over Elmira, New York. A frontal system stalled along the Canadian border producing heavy rain for the week before Agnes arrived.

Mt. St. Helens Eruption
Mt. St. Helens
Eruption

They combined to cause a 500 year flood (worst flood possible in a 500 year period) forcing my wife, 3-month-old  daughter, and me to spend 5 days in a Red Cross (thank heaven for them) evacuation center. Hurricanes, as a rule don’t strike the state of Oregon with the exception of the “Columbus Day Storm” of 1962. That’s another thing we don’t have here.

I lived in Spokane, Washington in 1981 when Mt. St. Helens decided to erupt on May 18th dropping 0.25 in. to 0.50 in. of ash on us. Some ash made it to this area, but not enough to cause the chaos we dealt with back then. Another thing that we don’t have, at least not yet.

Texas Blue Bonnets "like a blue carpet"
Texas Blue Bonnets
“like a blue carpet”

I lived in Austin, Texas in 1977 when the spring “Blue Bonnets” are a beautiful blue carpet covering field after field with the orange”Devil’s Paintbrush” plants ringing them with a splash of orange.

The most beautiful Spring I have ever seen, but after that approximately two week period it’s 100 degrees plus every day all Summer into what the calendar calls Autumn and the low temperatures drop to 80 degrees, if you’re lucky. Here we have pleasant summers rising into the nineties but falling up to 40 degrees overnight making for some pretty good sleeping weather. Extreme heat is another thing western Oregon doesn’t have.

"Devil's Paintbrush"
“Devil’s Paintbrush”

I lived in Memphis, Tennessee December 14th, 1987 when a tornado struck West Memphis, Arkansas and continued to chew through Memphis, Tennessee.

It paused just long enough to go over my house as a funnel cloud leaving neighborhoods directly southwest and northeast of me looking like they had bombs dropped on them. My wife and I along with our two children and two cats sought shelter in our bath tub until the “all clear” signal. Statistically we average only one tornado a year for Western Oregon and they usually cause little damage and very infrequently injure or kill people. That’s another thing we don’t have in our area.

         1987 Tornado Damage
1987
Tornado Damage

To sum it all up I agree with the native Oregonians that Oregon has so many things that other places around the world don’t have, but for me I also appreciate Oregon for the things it doesn’t have.

This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of columns reflecting our local weather, how we respond to it, exploring the wackiness of weather in general, and local events that are planned with the weather forecast as a guide to how to prepare for them. Suggestions for topics of future columns and questions are welcome. Please email me at: [email protected].

 

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