Dry times for coast

February 05, 2014 10:35 am

 

Where’s the rain? 

Dry winter weather has translated into months worth of great weather. But all that extra sunshine could create problems for the region. 

The National Weather Service has declared the South Coast, as well as most of the rest of Oregon, as a severe drought region. 

 

Between September 2013 and January 2014, usually the wettest months of the year, Brookings received only 18.63 inches of rain. That is well below the average amount of 44.39 inches that Brookings normally receives during those months. 

Ryan Sandler, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that while the drought in Oregon is not as bad as the one in California, rainfall is still significantly less than normal. Sandler said streams and rivers are running low and snowpack usually seen in higher elevations is not there.

 On Monday, the Chetco River was running at 636 cubic feet per second (cfs), well below normal flows of 2,500 cfs for that day. This is still above the lowest year seen on that day, when in 1977, only 147 cfs flowed down the Chetco. 

While the dry weather may have limited impacts now, in the coming months the lack of snowpack and unfilled aquifers could translate into water shortages. 

Mike Gauvin, recreational fisheries program manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said drought conditions aren’t good for fish and that the agency is monitoring the situation very closely.

“The fish become stressed out with lower water levels,” Gauvin said. He said that lower levels caused warmer water and that his meant steelhead were not entering rivers in larger numbers because they weren’t being triggered to by higher levels of water. 

In other parts of the state, the drought could severely impact agriculture and has already impacted skiing and winter recreation. Mount Ashland and Mount Shasta have yet to open for the season.

Winter is not quite over, and rain is predicted in the forecast for this weekend, but after several dry months in a row, it will be hard to make up for all the lost rain.