Thursday, January 27, 2011

June in January: What's up with this warm spell in Bend?

This winter is getting weird here in Bend, Oregon.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

In my three-and-a-half decades here I don’t recall a warmer January. Of course, I may be entirely wrong, but I remember a lot of Januaries when the month started with a prolonged cold spell. That’s cold spell as in minus 20 and even minus 30.

February used to be the month when temperatures would head into the mid fifties and people would start talking about an “early spring.” Two weeks later they would be shoveling snow.

One February we experience the biggest low-pressure gradient and a cold spell that lasted for a week with temps diving into the minus 20 range.

It was so cold that when four of us went for a ski tour at Swampy Lakes that we did so wearing expedition down jackets, face masks, down-filled mitts and insulated warmup pants. All that apparel didn’t help as we got cold and called it quits after a half hour skiing on fluff that was Utah-like in its dryness.

A couple of days later, several of us headed over to Mount Hood Meadows for a two-day ski demo. We headed directly from Bend to the demo after calling ahead to book into a motel in Hood River for the night.

Tired and ready for a hot shower, we left the demo in mid-afternoon only to arrive at the motel to find that all its pipes were frozen. There was no water let alone hot water. We headed to the bar smelly and in need of fluid.

It got a few degrees below zero that night in Hood River and AAA was working overtime the next morning starting cars. We had along an old Svea 123 backpacking stove in our car’s emergency box and got it going and up under the engine block for fifteen minutes. The car started easily.

Back in Central Oregon, the cold hung on with winds struggling to scour it out. Eventually it moved on and was replaced by several days of rain.

Weird weather has always been a hallmark of this region and from what we’ve seen this January, it will always be weird.

Meanwhile, down in Squaw Valley, California, which experienced near-record snowfall in December, hasn’t seen a snowflake the entire month of January.

Back here, as to what’ll happen weather-wise this spring, I predict a ten-day long cold spell in late February and early March followed by…who knows?

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