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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow, no? But we do have a different kind of weather problem that is just as scary.

The yearly average for rainfall in Oregon is 46.10 (on the coast we usually get more than that.) The previous driest year on record was 23.56", so approximately 1/2 of the average.  However, 2013 was only 21.13".  Ski resorts (not anywhere close to us here in Gold Beach) typically open around the end of November.  There are a number of them that aren't open yet, 4 months later.  There is no snow pack to speak of.

There will be no snow pack in the mountains, no filled pockets in the ground.  Our water source is a spring/cistern system.  We have a 2,500 gallon holding tank.  I will have to start working on conservation now, because I need to get in the habit.  How will our garden fare?  We are building raised beds so that should help some with water use.  Will the spring dry up?  It has once since I have lived here as an adult.  That was miserable, hauling water from town for the critters, drinking water, washing water, etc.  It would be much harder now with a small flock of sheep and a large flock of chickens.

Fire danger will also be very high this summer.  The Oregon coast actually does have hard core forest fires.  With drought conditions plus stupid human behavior or lightening storms, the country will be ripe for a bad fire.  We have no brush close to our home, but we live in the "valley" between two large hills (or small mountains) that are covered with fir, alder, myrtle, gorse, and all sorts of flammable brush.  I pray that this doesn't happen.

Since I obviously have no control over the rain/snow that we need, I will work hard to find ways to collect and conserve water, keep fire danger as low as possible and educate others.

Last weekend, an almost unheard of snow event happened here in Oregon (not in my area, of course).  Lots of the light, fluffy stuff fell down in the valleys and coastal mountains in the northeastern area.  Nothing in the mountains to help, though.  We had, finally, a "winter storm"... 3 plus inches of rain and higher (tho not our usual high) winds.  The ground, which is so dry, had a problem soaking it up (think an old dry sponge with the water from the faucet running off it).  Our creek did finally rise and take out the upstream beaver dam without damaging our bridge, thank goodness.We have more rain predicted, starting Saturday.  The weather report says possibly up to 17 inches in the next week.  I am worried though, because of the problems a large rain event will cause.

That much rain in that short of time will possibly bring flooding, slides and other hazards.   Our sheep and lambs (we lamb in January to have market lambs ready for fair) are used to the rain and mud, but heavy rain brings heavy mud with feet problems, etc.  A lot of people in our area are spoiled and don't think about things like flooding and safety until it's too late, which is silly because events like the upcoming one happen every couple of years.  Then they are yelling for help, and mad if they don't get it.  I work for the city as the water and payroll clerk, so I deal with the phone calls or silly questions, like "We have to fill our own sand bags?  Where do we get sand (our office is 4 blocks from the beach).  Also, our fire department is volunteer.  They are not trained to do water crossings, etc. and our insurance doesn't cover them if they do those things.  So, if they ask you if you want to be given a ride somewhere because your home is in danger of being flooded and you say no, but call back two hours later when your house is surrounded by water, they cannot come rescue you.  Some people say they should be willing to take the risk, but if they were injured or worse, died, there would be no insurance coverage to pay for hospital bills, funeral expenses, etc. because of the contract.  I have been posting reminders on the City facebook page for people to be prepared.

I'll get pictures of anything exciting that happens, but it won't be near as pretty as all of the snow pictures I've seen...


3 comments:

  1. I'm getting all sorts of alerts sent to my cell phone on "areal flooding" expected between Friday morning and Sunday. The weather forecasters are also predicting significant rainfall. This could get interesting. You may have some pictures to share very soon! :-)

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  2. You're right, this is no better than too much. We had a horrific drought not all that long ago and it was terrible trying to keep a garden. Hopefully you'll get what you need!

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  3. I had shivers going up and down my spine reading this post. There's nothing you can do in this type of a situation, but be as prepared as you can. Unfortunately, there are those who have totally forgotten self-responsibility (or are perhaps simply lazy?) and feel it's someone else's job to provide for them.

    One thing to think about regarding raised beds . . . mine tend to dry out faster than soil on the flat. Mulching the raised beds does help though.

    I'll be thinking of you and hoping you get the rain you need, but not in disastrous proportions.

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