I’m sure you have noticed that we haven’t had and significant rainfall in quite some time. Just how long has it been? For Eugene, measured at the Mahlon Sweet Airport, Eugene our last measurable rainfall (more than a trace) was June 17th with about a quarter of an inch, 0.26 inches to be precise. That means we have not had significant rainfall for 49 days (through August 5th).
Here is the breakdown of monthly precipitation totals for this year so far:
January … 4.85 inches – that is 2.02 inches below normal
February …2.70 inches – that is 2.73 inches below normal
March …….3.72 inches – that is 1.27 inches below normal
April ……….3.97 inches – that is 0.64 inches above normal
May ………..0.32 inches – that is 2.42 inches below normal
June ……….1.20 inches – that is 0.30 inches below normal
July ………..0.00 inches – that is 0.54 inches below normal
So far for the Calendar Year January 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018 the precipitation total is 16.76 inches – that is 8.67 inches below normal. For the Rain Year October 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 the precipitation total is 30.77 inches – that is 13.46 inches below normal.
In late July the Moderate drought designation for Western Oregon was raised to Severe Drought (see above). The severe drought started in Eastern Oregon and stretched over the Cascades and entrenched itself into Western Oregon. Approximately 55% of the state of Oregon is listed as in a severe drought. Fields that are being irrigated are thriving at this time, but the same cannot be said non-irrigated fields. The drought has put them under serious stress if not failure. We’ve gone through two years of La Nina controlled weather. That’s helped exacerbate the dry conditions. We have to hope El Nino returns this winter.
Oregon is one of 15 states that are currently listed as suffering a Severe Drought (D2). The states listed are Oregon, Southern California, Kansas, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, Southern Iowa, southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
We need to take a look at the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook to see how this drought could develop. The map indicates that drought conditions are expected to persist through the end of October. That is not a very promising forecast. There is a distinct possibility that this drought will not only persist, but may even spread over more of the state of Oregon.
There is another issue that we have already discussed this summer that could be enhanced due to this severe drought and that is the wildfire season. We already have 12 large wildfires burning (as of Sunday August 5, 2018) throughout our state and until the rain season begins we don’t have much hope of preventing more wildfires from breaking out. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the majority of Oregon’s wildfires are started by lightning strikes, but there is still the risk of human caused fires whether accidental or deliberate.
The best thing we can do is to keep our own property free of dry grass or overgrowth of any kind of trees or bushes close to our homes that could be a fire hazard should there be a fire spreading through our neighborhoods. Also keep your eyes open. If you see smoke or flames report it to the authorities as soon as possible so they can prevent a fire from spreading.
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