Saturday, August 28, 2010

Is Bend Getting Suckier? Weather Data Aren't Clear

There's a widespread perception among old-timers that Bend's climate has been getting suckier in the past few years -- that the winters hang on later, the summer comes later, and the so-called "spring" is chillier and grayer than it used to be.

Is there any empirical support for this perception? Jack Elliott has come up with a link to a national weather service site that offers a lot of data, but no conclusive answer.

From the site Elliott found I followed another link to a site that has, among other things, data for average monthly high temperatures in Bend going all the way back to 1901. (That's even older than any of the old-timers here who currently are bitching about the climate.) The daily average highs for the spring months during the period from 1901 to 2010 are:

April: 58.3 degrees F
May: 65.8
June: 72.9

Not too sucky, I'd say. Here are the corresponding numbers for 2009:

April: 56.2
May: 67.1
June: 72.5

So the April average high was 2.1 degrees below the long-term average, the May average high was about 2 degrees ABOVE the long-term average, and the June average was a mere 0.4 degrees below the long-term average -- pretty much a wash.

But now we come to the numbers for April, May and June of the current year:

April: 53.0
May: 59.7
June: 69.4

Brrrr! Those months were about 5 to 7 degrees colder than the long-term average -- I'd call that significantly suckier. But one year does not make a trend, and we can hope that this miserable excuse for a spring (and summer) was an aberration.

Long-term data on average monthly precipitation in Bend show this:

April: 0.70 inches
May: 0.90
June: 0.75

Last year we had a notoriously soggy and sucky June -- more than 4 inches of rainfall -- following a slightly drier than average April (0.56) and May (0.73). This year April's rainfall was considerably above average (1.23 inches), May's was considerably below average (0.39) and June's was a bit above average (1.0).

Unfortunately the data don't tell us anything about sunniness, which, as those of us who have lived any length of time in Bend know, is not the same thing as absence of precipitation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer and Smoke and Suck*

(NOTE: Totals have been revised, thanks to an alert reader who pointed out that there were 212 total days in the first seven months of the year. Duh.)

Summer has finally arrived in full force in Bend, with sunny skies and high temperatures. Every day of July except one (July 2) was sunny.

The downside of the arrival of warm summer weather, though, is that it produces thunderstorms. Thunderstorms produce lightning, which starts forest fires, which fill the air in and around Bend with smoke for much of July and August.

Right now the Rooster Rock fire near Sisters has been almost contained (that means the firefighters have cleared a line around it to keep it from expanding further) but not before it burned more than 6,000 acres of woodland and filled the Central Oregon air with a pungent reddish-brown haze.

A couple of days ago the visibility was so bad that if you didn't know better you'd swear you were in Los Angeles. It was truly suckitudinous.

Thanks to July's impressive performance, the total number of sunny days so far this year has finally surpassed the total number of sucky days. But don't worry -- in two months, give or take, the Sucky Season will return.

July Totals

Days of Sun: 30
Days of Suck: 1

YTD Totals

Days of Sun: 111
Days of Suck: 101

*Apologies to Tennessee Williams