2015 weather was unpredictable


2015 weather was unpredictable

5:13 p.m. PST December 28, 2015

We’ve endured some extreme weather this year, from balding snow packs in the Cascades in winter to a parched statewide drought in summer to muddy flooding at year’s end.

Here’s a weather-wise look in the rear-view mirror as we finish 2015 with our windshield wipers set on high.

1. Hot weather leads to changes in fish management 

In July, outdoors columnist Henry Miller reported on tough decisions state and federal officials had to face dealing with early fish hatching.

He wrote, “Two federal fish hatcheries on the Washington side of the Columbia River have released 6 million fall Chinook salmon a week early because of rising water temperatures in the Columbia River Gorge.”

The dry and hot conditions were approaching lethal levels to Chinook, said Jeff Yanke, a department fish biologist at the Enterprise office, when interviewed by Miller.

This shocked many.

“Right now my primary concern is getting enough fish back to ensure a next generation,” Yanke said.

2. Detroit Reservoir breaks record for summertime low water 

As outdoor writer Zach Urness wrote, “It was not an easy summer at Detroit Lake.”

The well-known reservoir east of Salem experienced record lows this summer, hitting its high water mark on May 5 at 1,506 feet and dropping so low that docks had to be relocated and fishing derbies were held in pools on dry land.

In a normal year, the reservoir is around 60 feet higher.

The last time conditions were this bad in Oregon was in 2001, when the high water mark at Detroit, recorded on May 31, was 1,510 feet.

The main reason for the low levels was a lack of spring rain — about 50 percent of what’s normal — and an almost nonexistent snowpack. Last winter, Western Oregon’s snowpack was a mere 8 percent of normal in the Central Cascades, the lowest mark in recorded history.

3. Rain drives trick-or-treaters indoors 

Though summer drought conditions left the state defeated and dehydrated, when the rains came, they poured.

Halloween was particularly memorable as water rushed from the clouds in buckets.

In her November 2 story, senior reporter Carol McAlice Currie reported that nearly two inches of rain fell Halloween evening.

Though Oregonians rarely let rain change their plans, this spooky holiday was slightly different.

“Mid-Valley malls on Monday reported a sizable uptick in the number of children who came out of the downpour with their parents and caregivers, and trolled for candy from a variety of stores at Lancaster Mall in Salem and the Woodburn Premium Outlets mall in Woodburn,” Currie wrote.

Though candy was still collected, costumed-locals had to get creative this year in order to stay dry.

4. Water levels expected to rise, rain continues 

Oregon’s rainy reputation has been holding true this November and December as flooding, high winds, and days of downpour are the norm.

Reporter Kaellen Hessel wrote about the water levels early December, telling about the inches that have fallen, the inches that were yet to come, and information about weather-related road work and places to get sand bags.

“It’s just a whole mix of obnoxious things going on right now,” Hessel quoted Clinton Rocky, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, in the article.

5. Storms taking toll on Mid-Valley 

A ‘whole mix of obnoxious’ is correct.

December’s weather in Oregon was particularly atrocious, as I wrote in a story about storm effects on the Mid-Valley.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown had declared a state of emergency in 13 counties throughout the state as of Dec. 11.

The weather caused power outages, state park closures, loss of drinking water, emergency relief funds and teams deployed, fallen trees and more.

Not only has the weather been damaging so far, but it seems it will continue until the last day of the calendar year.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or http://www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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