I am continuing the train of thought from my previous column which explained many of the things that western Oregon doesn’t have. All of them related to one type or another of bad weather. This time I’d like to show you some of the reasons why I live here and plan on staying here for the rest of my life.
Ben Franklin once said “Some people are weatherwise, but most people are otherwise” while Mark Twain said “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” There is a lot of truth in these two famous quotes. Over my 37 years as a TV Meteorologist I made up a quote of my own, or maybe I heard it somewhere, “If you don’t like the weather here move, but you’ll never escape the weather.” These three quotes just reinforce my feeling that the weather here is the most benign of anywhere I have ever lived. I think that is a good thing. Yes, we have set some records, but for the most part severe weather tends to shy away from us.
I know statistics can be dull and even boring, but I’d would still like to show some of them to you. Believe-it-or-not the warmest temperature ever recorded in the world is + 134 degrees F at Greenland Ranch reporting station in Death Valley, California set on July 10th, 1913. I guess that’s why they call it “Death Valley.” Compare that to the all-time record for Eugene of +108 degrees F on August 9, 1981 and I’ll take Eugene heat anytime.
The world’s coldest temperature ever recorded was -128.6 degrees at Vostok Station, Antarctica set on July 21,1983.
Eugene’s coldest temperature was a mere -12 degrees F on December 8,1972. The coldest I ever experienced was -39 degrees F in Eau Claire, WI back in the 1970s. It was very windy that day and the wind chill temperature was down to -85 degrees F. I walked two blocks, into the wind, from a service station where my car was getting an oil change to the TV station where I worked and by the time I arrived at work my forehead felt like someone was sticking a knife into it. Taking all of that into account I can live with -12 degrees F if I have to.I can’t fathom even visiting a place where it can be as cold as -128.6 degrees F not alone live there.
Let’s take a look at rainfall worldwide. The wettest place in the world is considered to be Mount Waialeale on the island of Kauai in Hawaii with a spectacular average of 460 inches of rain per year.That’s an amazing 38.3 ft. of rain per year. Eugene, on the other hand, located in a state where (according to many famous quotes) it “rains all of the time” averages 50.90 in. of rain per year. As I mentioned in my last column I moved to Oregon 21 years ago from Memphis, TN. Memphis averages 50 in. of rain per year (very close to Eugene’s average), but gets a lot of it due to thunderstorms which produce up to an inch or more of rain per storm. I’ll choose Oregon easily on this one. I’d rather see more days with a little rain rather than the driving thunderstorm rains of Memphis that can and do cause widespread street flooding.
What was the wettest year ever for Eugene, you might ask? The year was 1996, but the amount of rain that fell at the Eugene airport is still in question. That year was when the “Modernization” of the National Weather Service took place. Many smaller National Weather Service offices were closed including the one for Eugene at the Mahlon Sweet Airport. For that final year the station was in operation the lone meteorologist working there kept measuring the rainfall in the old rain gauge on the roof of their building. The new automated system was set up about a mile from the old building. According to the new automated gauge Eugene registered a record 74.18 in. of rain, however the old manual rain gauge recorded 101.93 in. of rain for the year setting and even more impressive record. In an effort to determine why there was such a disparity between the gauges the National Weather Service replaced the automated gauge multiple times to no avail. There was still a significant difference that could not be explained. I guess it will remain one of those unsolved mysteries of life.
When we investigate the record for snowfall in one storm the winner is Mount Shasta, California with 189 in. of snow that fell from 2/13-2/19 in 1954.
The year was 1969 when Eugene received 22.9 in. of snow from 1/25-1/26 for the greatest 24 hour snowfall ever. Eugene recorded a snow depth of 34 in. 1/27-1/28 for the greatest snow depth recorded.
The snow total for the month of January 1969 was 41.7 in. which set an all-time record for the month and for any month ever in Eugene.
There are always records to be broken and Eugene will probably break more of them, but the records here will be easier for us to survive that those in most of the rest of the country.
Suggestions for future column topics are welcome. Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected]