Rain made it 4th-wettest year

2013-01-01T07:00:00Z Rain made it 4th-wettest yearBy Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald Corvallis Gazette Times

Tally for 2012: 58.72 inches, 16 inches more than normal

No Hurricane Sandy here. No earth-cracking droughts. Nary a sign of a blizzard.

But in its own Pacific Northwest way, the mid-valley’s weather for 2012 was nearly as extreme as the rest of the nation’s.

Thanks to unrelenting downpours in spring and winter, the western portion of the mid-valley is poised to close out 2012 as the fourth-wettest year on record.

The Hyslop Weather Station in Corvallis had measured 58.72 inches of rain through Dec. 27, up from the average 42.71 inches recorded over the past 30 years. No rainfall was recorded from the 27th through Monday morning.

The biggest burst came in mid-January, when a nearly 7-inch torrent over Jan. 18 and 19 caused landslides in the Vineyard Mountain area of Benton County, evacuating more than 20 residents to Crescent Valley High School.

In Albany, the deluge swept a Buick sedan from a flooded parking lot into a culvert, drowning an 18-year-old woman and her 20-month-old son.

Wild weather continued with a spring snowstorm. As measured by official weather stations, between 1 and 3.5 inches of snow fell March 21 between Corvallis and Sweet Home, closing schools, snapping limbs and power lines, and knocking out electricity for some 16,000 people.

Yet by early fall, those days were a distant memory. Oregon as a whole had the second-driest summer period on record, said Kathie Dello, deputy director of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University, extending fire season and causing many private woodland owners to close their lands to hunters.

In fact, Oregon was second in the nation for the most acres lost to wildland fires this year, with 1.26 million. Idaho topped the list with 1.54 million.

The Hyslop station measured 0.87 inches of rain between July and September, about an inch and a half less than normal, Dello said. But parts of eastern Linn County, including Sweet Home, went more than 100 consecutive days without any measurable rainfall until well into October.

“We’re talking about a time period that doesn’t see much rain anyway, but it was noticeable,” Dello said. “When school starts, we expect it to start raining again, and it was dry. That was odd.”

Rain in November and December has been slightly higher than average, bookending the summer with “two very wet events,” Dello said.

The forecast so far is for a dry New Year’s Day, but after that, she said, it’s anybody’s guess. For the first time in a decade, the Northwest is not experiencing the effects of either El Nino or La Nina weather conditions: the former, drier and warmer than usual, the latter, wetter.

Without them, “The predictability goes down a bit,” Dello said.

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