A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Winter snow: Let’s remember the past

Written December 26th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Judging by all the excitement, you’d think something unusual had taken place. But no, all that happened so far is that it snowed in Oregon in December.

This doesn’t happen every year, but it happens more often than I’d like. I’ve lived in Oregon for 54 years. In my experience a snowfall in December or January is about as unusual as a heat wave in June or July.

Last week Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order telling state agencies to do what they could to help people during the cold spell and snowfall then in the forecast. (You’d think agencies would do that without an explicit order.)

“Our state has experienced a number of climate-related emergencies this year,” the governor said in a statement, “and with another coming, I urge all Oregonians to make a plan with your family now and be prepared.”

Good advice, sure. But snow in winter is hardly a “climate-related emergency.” The Oregon climate may be gradually changing, but for the past century or so, winters have been generally wet and usually cold, sometimes cold enough for water to freeze and snow to fall.

The five heaviest snowfalls in Portland — between 13 and 15 inches over one day — were recorded in 1892, 1902, 1919, 1933, and 1943. Four of those were in December and January, and one on Feb. 1, 1933.

Lesser amounts of snow, but still enough to cancel school, were routine during the Oregon winters of my memory. They are part of Oregon’s climate year in and year out.

One wishes the governor had kept that fact about our climate in mind when her administration this month adopted rules intended to slow global warming. If carried out, the rules will deprive Oregonians, in the years to come, of affordable and traditional sources of energy and heat.

As for “climate emergencies,” those will come when it’s snowing and you’re freezing because the law has made natural gas and other fuels expensive to get or illegal to use. (hh)

12 responses to “Winter snow: Let’s remember the past”

  1. Deborah Swenson says:

    I remember many winters in the 70’s and 80’s living in Salem, Albany, and Corvallis, that we would/could get as much as 3 feet of snow. The Freeway and many of the roads would close. When we moved to Klamath Falls we had snow from October to May, with snow on the ground continually. I got to hating white everywhere I looked. Moved to WA for a few years then moved back here to the valley and was surprised that the snow pattern had changed and that we didn’t get it as often, or as much. I think many of the younger people never experienced that weather pattern and think it is unusual. It is not. This weather is just new to them. Not new to Oregon or the valley.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    Every 10 to 12 years, right Hasso? Give or take 5 or 6. Oh and look it is still snowing.
    Freezing over night. Icy in the morning for that Monday commute. Be safe. Slide well.

    Otherwise, change election coming in 2022. fun fun Maybe you can reverse the ban on energy and common sense.

  3. Anon says:

    One byproduct of this “Weather Emergency” is that the Governor influences people to stay home instead of going to small businesses and spending money, thus supporting them. Sundays road conditions at least made the “Weather Emergency” seem unnecessary necessary and harmful to the local economy.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Gov. Brown is a classic, intolerant eco-fascist.

    She reveals herself by promoting a political-economic system under which an authoritarian central government controls what you do, make, buy, sell, and say.

    And she is backed up by acts of intimidation and a monopoly on the application of wide-scale violence.

    Beware, Hasso. It’s just a matter of time before they come for you and others who dare to speak truth to power.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      ROFLMAO! You’ve been cooped up too long. Nevertheless, Happy New Year to come. :-)

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        As a public service I’d like to inform Albany residents that the state DEQ wants you to rat out your polluting neighbors (i.e. use of a wood burning stove or fireplace). Just contact your local code enforcer.

        Since nobody knows who this is, just file your complaint with your city council representative.

        Since it is doubtful most residents know who this is, just file your complaint with the Mayor.

        And, please, know that the heavy hand of government is applied for the common good.

        Best of all, know that your overseers are committed to punishing every deplorable who flaunts government orders.


        Happy new year.

        • Bob Woods says:

          Thanks, Gordon! Knowing you’re on top of …. something, is better than…something?
          Take a few days off from the anger and enjoy the holiday season in North Carolina.

          Watch some football, or hockey, or COVID Testing sites.

          You’ll be a better man for it.

        • MJF says:

          Gordon, unless you’re a neighbor burning materials best not burned and/or generating excessive emissions from a wood stove or fireplace, your warning is much ado about nothing let alone hyperbolize.

          Thanks to your included link, these are the DEQ’s specifics for environmental pollution complaints:

          Reports from Oregonians are an important element of the enforcement of Oregon’s environmental laws. Here are examples of complaints you can submit to DEQ.

          ⁃ Unusual pollution from a facility
          ⁃ Mismanagement of asbestos and hazardous waste
          ⁃ Release of harmful chemicals, pollution or sewage to the ground or water
          ⁃ Construction or other activity causing a stream or river to become murky
          ⁃ Illegal dumping site
          ⁃ Outdoor burning on state-designated non-burn days or burning illegal materials (rubber, plastic, tires, asbestos, food waste)
          ⁃ DEQ does not handle the following complaints
          ⁃ Make sure your complaint reaches the right agency. Click the links below to find contact information to the appropriate agency.

          Air Quality

          Concerns in Lane County – contact Lane Regional Air Protection Agency
          Indoor air quality (mold, mildew, radon, formaldehyde, tobacco smoke and furnaces) – contact Oregon Health Authority

          Local Issues

          This includes illegal dwellings, abandoned RVs, noise, restaurant or woodstove smoke, and houseless camping:

          Notify code enforcement at your local city
          Notify code enforcement at your local county
          Houseless camping within the City of Portland – contact the City’s One Point of Contact system at 503-823-4000 or reportpdx@portlandoregon.gov

          Smoke and Burning

          Smoke from agricultural field burning in the Willamette Valley – contact Oregon Department of Agriculture
          For information about who regulates other agricultural field burning – contact Oregon Department of Agriculture
          Smoke from forest (prescribed) burning – contact Oregon Department of Forestry
          Outdoor burning of legal materials on state-allowed burn days – contact your fire department to learn about additional, local no-burn days


          From hemp farms – contact Oregon Department of Agriculture to learn more about Oregon’s right-to-farm agricultural laws. Odor from growing hemp is not regulated.
          From marijuana (cannabis) farms – contact Oregon Liquor Control Commission

          Pollution is not a positive thing now nor has it ever been even when we were much less informed about it and that ignorance didn’t make the pollution less impactful for those people, wildlife, and places affected.

          Pollution is real, harmful, increasing, and comes in many forms some obvious and not so obvious.

          Less pollution is a good thing for everyone and everything, even for the entities that exploit and benefit from polluting.

    • Micah Awk says:

      Gordon, change is nothing new though difficult and an inevitable force everyone and every thing experiences. Scientific facts along with an open heart and mind are some proven tools to help make change less foreign and in turn less difficult.

    • Micah Awk says:

      I’m confident that anyone who has lived outside of the United States and experienced far less of the liberties, endless conveniences, and more than necessary comforts us citizens have now and always have had yet so often take for granted within our complacency would easily disagree with such a fear mongering alarmist howl.

  5. Lundy says:

    Recognizing that anecdotes aren’t science but still useful and sometimes fun, I’ll add a few. I’ve lived in Oregon for 57 years, a little more than half of that in the mid-valley, and it seems like I see less snow than I used to. I’m old enough to remember 3 feet of snow in 1969 — that’s the deepest I’ve seen in Oregon outside the mountains. I think I recall at least a foot on maybe four other occasions, the last time eight or so years ago when we got 18 inches. But Hasso you are right: A December snowstorm is hardly an extreme rarity around here. Thanks for all of the reporting and commentary, and happy holidays to you and your family!

  6. GregB says:

    Oh yeah, Lundy. I remember the ’69 snow storm too, but only because my parents in Florence told me about it. My number was up and I was out if state in boot camp during that storm. I spent the fall of ’68 before boot camp cruising timber for the FS in Mapleton. There was many a cold snowy day that fall traipsing thru the woods. Our current snow storm is nothing unusual for the Willamette valley. The governor issued a executive order because of this? Really?


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