In a previous article published on January 12, 2015 tilled No, We Didn’t Have To Use The “D” Word In 2014 I explained that the snow pack in the Cascade Mountains was practically non-existent, but there was no official drought declaration issued at that time. That has changed now.
On Monday April 6, 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown added Crook, Harney and Klamath counties to the list of drought declared counties. In mid-March she had declared Malheur and Lake counties officially under drought conditions. Now, as of May 22, 2015 Lane county has been added to the list. Along with Lane county Brown added Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Morrow, Umatilla and Wasco counties. That makes a total of 12 counties with drought declarations and summer hasn’t even started yet.
According to Oregon Climate at OSU “Every basin in Oregon has a rating of at least ‘drought likely.’ Drought is unavoidable in Eastern Oregon.” I don’t want to get bogged down with numbers, but we need to look at the rainfall totals. As of May 26, 2015 the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Portland reports that rainfall at the Eugene Airport since January 1, 2015 has totaled 11.98 inches which is 10.85 inches below normal. We should have 22.83 inches of precipitation by now. The rain year for the Willamette Valley begins October 1st and runs through September 30th. Eugene’s precipitation total for this rain year is only 29.03 inches which is 12.60 inches below normal. Since our dry Summer season is just about to begin it’s quite certain that we have no chance of catching up to where those totals belong.
Governor Brown even put the word out with a youtube video for all Oregonians.
There is a process for the state of Oregon to issue a drought declaration for a county. Here is how they explain it at their Oregon.gov. website: “The legal framework for drought mitigation can be found in Oregon Law, ORS536.700 – 536.780 relating to drought emergencies and administrative rules, OAR Chapter 690, Division 19. Under this legal framework, the governor has the authority and sole discretion to declare a drought emergency in any geographical area within the state that is appropriate. County boundaries are generally used because of the obvious benefits of working with a recognized government. Counties first make their drought declarations and then ask for a state declaration. County governments should start the process by working with their emergency management program staff.” There is another process for getting drought assistance from the federal government.
One of the determining factors in how much of a problem this drought presents is wildfires. There is an increased probability of seeing serious wildfires this summer if we don’t see significant rainfall scattered over the next month or so. That means we must be especially careful when using fire whether it is for a backyard bar-b-q or a campfire in the woods. Water conservation is another way to make sure we have an ample supply water to meet our needs. Some ways to do that would be to wash your car less often, water your lawn less often and with less water and don’t keep the water running in the sink when it’s not necessary. If we all cooperate we’ll have a better chance of getting through this summer with an adequate water supply.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].