Do you remember what the weather was like for 2017? Often our recollections are not really very accurate. That’s why I decided to give you the details of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Portland’s official year-end summary for Eugene. Each year Clinton Rockey assembles all of this information and now we’ll take a look at each month one at a time.
January – Rather chilly and showery for the first two weeks, with snow showers falling on the hills around town. On the 4th 2 to 5 inches of snow fell on the higher terrain around Eugene, with jackpot being 5.0 to 5.5 inches from Pleasant Hill through Creswell. Dry but cold on 5th to 6th, then came a major winter storm. On the 7th, heavy snow fell with 5 to 8 inches reported across the Eugene/Springfield and surrounding areas. But the snow transitioned to freezing rain, with many areas getting ice accumulations of 0.50 to 1.25 inches. This caused significant damage to trees and power lines, with many without power for several days. For first time in 30 years, Oregon Department of Transportation ordered mandatory chains on all vehicles traveling between Wilsonville and Eugene on Interstate 5. A little more light freezing rain fell on the area on the 13th and 14th, but was not as devastating as earlier storm. Milder air returned on the 16th and 17th, with temperatures warming back into the 50s during the days. Strong front on the 18th brought rain and gusty south winds. Afterwords, weather became more tranquil. While not the record coldest, this was the coldest January since 1993. New records set: 5th – Daily low temperature 13 (old record 15 in 1924). Precipitation: 4.05 inches = 2.82 inches below normal. Total of 3 inches of snow fell at my house (600 ft. elevation) on January 4th, 3 inches of snow and 0.25-0.50 inches of ice on top of snow at my house on January 7th.
February – Mild weather continued, with typical February weather. Several fronts brought wind and heavy rain to the region, mainly on the 4th/5th, 15th/16th, and another 20th/21st. None of the local rivers flooded, but there were areas with ponding of water and minor urban flooding in areas of poor drainage. On the 20th, areas around Dexter had several trees blown down onto HWY-58. New records set: 5th – Daily maximum precipitation 1.24 inches (old record 0.98 inches in 1919), 16th – Daily maximum precipitation 1.69 inches (old record 1.45 inches in 1970). Precipitation: 9.33 inches = 3.90 inches above normal.
March – Rather normal March, with no significant events. No new records set. Precipitation: 5.82 inches = 0.83 inches above normal.
April – A lot of the days in April had rain, 23 days to be exact. This tied 1948 and 1893 as the 3rd most such days in April. Record most is 25 days, set in 2003 and 1993 (normal is 15 days). A strong front pushed across the region on the 7th, with southerly winds gusting to 40 to 50 mph. Winds may have contributed to four fatalities with a small plane that crashed while on approach to Mahlon Sweet Field. Winds damaged trees and brought down power lines. At one point I-5 near Albany was closed for a few hours in the morning due to power lines down on the interstate. No new records set. Precipitation: 3.65 inches = 0.32 inches above normal.
May – To the delight of gardeners, and those tired of the wet winter, May brought warm days and quite a few dry days. Rainfall was more than half of normal, with most of that falling between the 11th and the 16th. Little if any rain fell after the 17th of the month. New records set: 4th – Daily high temperature 85 (old record 83 in 2013). Precipitation: 1.22 inches = 1.52 inches below normal.
June – A quite pleasant, but uneventful June. Majority of the rain for the month fell between the 7th and 10th. Showers on the 10th and 11th did produce some excitement, as a funnel cloud was reported to east of Corvallis. After the 16th little if any rain fell. With this dry weather, temperatures warmed into the 80s and 90s, with warmest occurring on the 24th with 96 degrees. No new records set. Precipitation: 1.38 inches = 0.12 inches below normal.
July – Great summer month. Warm days, with 25 days of highs of at least 80 degrees. Nights were coolish, with lows 45 to 55 degrees. And dry, with 0.02 inch of rain. No new records set. Precipitation: 0.02 inches = 0.52 inches below normal.
August – Nearly a carbon copy of July, as was warm and dry. Rain recorded on only 1 day, when 0.14 inch fell on 13th. Daily breeze north winds, combined with the warm and dry conditions of July and August, brought an increase of roadside and brush fires. After record heat to start the month (102 degrees on the 2nd and 3rd), thunderstorms pushed up the Cascades. Lightning started many fires, some of which which became quite large in the warm and dry conditions. The large fires include the Jones fire near Lowell, Rebel fire on the South Fork of the McKenzie River, and the Whitewater fire near Marion Forks, but other fires were occurring in Central Oregon back across Southwest Oregon and into Northern California. Winds aloft often brought smoke to the Eugene/Springfield area, creating unhealthy air quality at times. New records set: 2nd – Daily high temperature 102 (old record 99 in 1939), 28th – Daily high temperature 102 (old record 100 in 1993 + others), 28th – Tied daily high temperature 97 (97 in 1931 + others). Precipitation: 0.14 inches = 0.47 inches below normal.
September – Dry and warm conditions continued for the first part of September. Heavy thunderstorms rolled across the Cascades on the 7th. Storms produced golfball-sized hail near Oakridge, with quarter-sized hail near Blue River. Main weather story focused on the smoke and wildfires of the Cascades, such as Jones and Rebel. Smoke became a daily part of life through mid-month, though the worst seems to be the first 6 days of the month, as light Southeast winds allowed heavy smoke to drift over from the fires out and over the region. South winds higher up in the atmosphere brought smoke from Northern California and Southwest Oregon over the region at times as well. A break in the heat brought highs in the 60s along with onshore flow between the 17th and 23rd. The onshore flow pushed the smoke aloft back to the east, giving the local area a respite from the smoke. New records Tied: 3rd – Daily high temperature (96 in 1949). Precipitation: 1.05 inches = 0.24 inches below normal.
October – And just like that, summer was over. After seeing temperatures in the low to mid 70s in the first week, it was 50s and 60s afterwards. Rather robust front arrived on 21st into 22nd, producing heavy rain. Like most rain in October, fallen leaves and clogged drains produce areas of urban flooding and ponding of water. Overall, mild days and cool nights allowed for curing of trees, providing some spectacular displays of Autumn color. It was also the first dry Halloween since 2006. New records Tied: 5th – Daily low temperature (32 in 2012). Precipitation: 4.08 inches = 0.83 inches above normal.
November – Temperatures/Precipitation were normal. Strong winds gusting 40 to 45 mph accompanied a cold front on the 13th. These winds produced some tree damage and spotty power outages. Light winds at night, with clear skies, allowed for many nights with heavy fog, especially during the last week. Warm air mass over the region from 20th to 22nd pushed temperatures into the 60s, Warmest being 67 degrees on 21st. New records set: 21st – Daily high temperature 67 (old record 63 in 1933 + others). Precipitation: 7.46 inches = 0.26 inches below normal.
December – Strong high pressure over the Western USA kept the area, mostly dry from 4th through 18th. But, this also formed a lot of nighttime and morning fog,with dense fog reported on nearly every day for first 3 weeks of December. The high pressure minimized the mixing of the air mass, leading to multiple days with poor to moderate air quality. A strong front brought an inch of rain on the 19th and 20th. Between the 23rd and 25th, Arctic air spilled into Western Oregon, with sleet and light freezing rain on the 24th. The milder air returned on 28th, with rain for a few days. Even with the return of rain, December 2017 finished as the 5th driest December on record. No new records set. Precipitation: 2.47 inches = 5.36 inches below normal.
To summarize the year for Eugene the temperatures averaged out to be normal for the 12-month period while precipitation for the calendar year was 5.43 inches below normal.
Here we are in 2018 now so let’s see how this year shapes up.
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