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.


blackdog said...

Temperature at this moment in Bend, OR: 64 degrees.

Temperature at this moment in Fargo, ND: 87 degrees.


Anonymous said...

"Brrrr! Those months were about 5 to 7 degrees colder than the long term average"

My point exactly. There's nothing wrong w/ poring over data and familiarizing yourself with as much of it as you can get your hands on. I have a lot of friends that a "chart worshipers". They've bailed me out more than once.

I suppose there's always a case for "Reversion to The Mean" and I've no doubt ultimately.., The Mean prevails! But that ain't helping me NOW! Since we're doing sports analogies ( loved the Casey Stengel quote btw ) when you're the mgr. of a ball club and you have a 25 yr. vet. w/ a .400 Lifetime Batting Avg. you go with it!

But if the poor guy shows up drunk or just went thru a nasty divorce etc. and his mind simply isn't on the game, then all of a sudden that 25 years of concrete data don't mean a thing!?

Even an entire -season- of suck won't drag his LT avg. down that much. And this is where data can be misleading. Try telling a client "But... Microsoft has been a great performing stock for years!" Well.., it 'was'? Guys, it's the here & now that matters. And I've no doubt ( historically... ) that Ashland hasn't fared better! Markedly so. But as Blackdog notes ( and Jack's obs. on Polson, MT as well ) this thing is spreading! Question is, how much distance do we need to put between ourselves and 'it'?

blackdog said...

It looks like the high pressure dome that keeps the NW (relatively) warm and dry during the "summer" has broken down early and the sucky cold, cloudy, wet weather pattern we endured throughout the "spring" has returned.

So much for Bend's vaunted "Indian summer." We are well and truly fucked.

"Bend-fucked," as one of the participants in the old BendBubble2 blog used to say. And you ain't really been fucked until you been Bend-fucked.

Anonymous said...

"has broken down early"

My summation as well. Here in Silverton we have "Homer Davenport Days" ( yes yet another Fest ) during the 3rd week of Aug. Of late I can't recall one where chill/overcast/rain didn't make an appearance? It's become quite the norm.

In years passed I was never left with the impression we were "holding off" or barely keeping The Drear at bay during the summer months? The PDO has made the Default Toggle so powerful that now only mid- July to mid-August are "safe".

Given the trajectory we're on.., ( how long will it be before we have no summer at ALL!? ) This is why I tend to view Ashland, Yreka or even Fallon, NV as really more 'defensive' moves at best? It's entirely possible that uprooting and making the move will only be able to provide what we 'used' to enjoy here? And that's my real fear.

blackdog said...

"This is why I tend to view Ashland, Yreka or even Fallon, NV as really more 'defensive' moves at best?"

Well, I'm 64 years old, so if I get to enjoy 10 or 12 years of decent weather in Ashland I'll be satisfied. Besides, weather isn't everything. Los Angeles and Las Vegas are warm and sunny but I wouldn't live in either of those towns on a bet.

As I've said before, the weather has been freakishly cold and wet all up and down the West Coast this year (e.g., it's only 70 in LA as I write this, which is VERY cool for this time of year) so we can keep our fingers crossed and HOPE it's a one-year aberration.

Anonymous said...

and then the snow today in August, does it get any worse?

Anonymous said...

"e.g., it's only 70 in LA as I write this"

Well said Sir. Have a good friend in Whittier, CA and he has been totally bummed out over how their summer has been an Epic Fail. Normally he just loves riding me about how utterly dreary OR's weather is, been pretty silent this year.

Secondly, for all my "grumpiness" ( I hope you live to be 100! ) But I do hear you, we have to go w/ the numbers and can't gauge a decision on a ret. "haven" based on where we think the weather for that region will be in 35 years? And it just MAY turn out that we find ourselves forced to move further inland/south/etc. just to maintain a certain standard?

Agreed, I can't in any way picture living in Vegas or LA ( year round ) so not much point even putting them in your 'universe' of potential options. Unless you like getting cussed out every time you get in your car?

blackdog said...

SNOW???? Where the fuck did you have SNOW????

blackdog said...

"I hope you live to be 100!"

I don't. Not unless I get to trade in my old body.

Anonymous said...

"Not unless I get to trade in my old body" LOL

Yeah, it'd be great wouldn't it? But before I get trounced for hatin' on puppies, my obs. regarding the weather are part of a much broader game plan.

I call it ( for lack of a better term ) "Finding your Youth!" For the longest time... I WAS letting OR get the best of me! Hell, I felt my age and THEN some. Ever since I hit rock-bottom about two years ago, I lost almost 40 pounds, I'm back playing in a band and re-joined the Reserves.

Now I'm -forced- to compete w/ younger people on a daily basis! And I couldn't be happier. This means 'not' playing oldies w/ a bunch of guys your age, you have to get out and mix it up w/ the kids! I could have "gotten thru" our annual PT w/ a min. effort, but I figured.., if you need 1) a start time before it "gets too hot" 2) a solid wind at your back and 3) an abdominal measurement done at 'just' the optimal time ( uh... you're really not 'in shape' )

So it's a LOT of things. This weather can be like "your favorite bar stool" and it calls out to you to remain as still as possible to conserve body heat. It'll beat you if you let it.

Anonymous said...

Snow was in Sunriver today and yes I consider that Bend as I live in Bend work in Sunriver. Really 18 miles is close enough to be considered still local.

blackdog said...

Snow in Sunriver on Aug. 30. Fuck.

If the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is causing this god-awful weather, we're in for 10 to 30 years of it. I'm starting to think my wife and I need to move away from the Pacific NW entirely -- to AZ or NM or Hawaii, or maybe even back to the East Coast.

blackdog said...

And of course there's always sunny Fargo.

Anonymous said...


It's entirely up to 'you' but perhaps we could even consider broadening the scope of the blog to cover the PDO in 'general'?

I'd wager there's a growing number of long time residents throughOUT the PNW that are starting to entertain the very same doubts! Particularly those that primarily work outdoors and/or make their living from the land?

Actually, the wife and I 'have' long considered the notion of having a PT residence on the Big Island. It's halfway between the West Coast and P.I ( and truth be told.., the culture there is pretty much like the P.I? )

The local motion picture theater is as likely to show a Tagalog ( or even Japanese language movie ) as they are one in English! While more than affordable, crime and drugs are an issue. Some of the HI guys from my Unit claim there simply aren't enough signs of civilization to keep them occupied, and for someone that grew up there, I fully understand.

Anonymous said...

And now ( sadly ) it's with deep regret I feel I must inform you that, it's been reported by our local "Our Town" paper that the longtime proprietors of one of our finest Bed & Breakfast's and Historical Society/Chamber of Commerce members is uh... chucking it and bagging @$$ to.., FLORIDA!

"They turn a new page in September and head off to realize dreams of SUNSHINE* and travel in Florida" ( Where you can pick up a condo for less than a 2-door mid-sized sedan? )

*Emphasis mine.

Yeah, without any Unsportsman-like End-Zone celebrations, I think I can safely say this will only be the first of many. Can you say i-n-v-e-s-t-e-d? Geez, you can't get any more anchored than 'that'?

AFAIK, their former B&B hasn't even SOLD yet?!? What's this, send the check to a PO box in FL? Guys, I never really even 'knew' this couple, but their bus. was on the same block as my best friend here in town. Without question and without fail, EVERY time I walked or drove passed the guy was working his ASS off! Painting, landscaping, decorating. They even had a period car restored to loving perfection.

Yeah, all that hard work, one stoopid bubble-driven faux economy after the other along with summers that don't exactly 'inspire' and They.Have.Had.It. Can't say as I blame them. Just hope they don't find themselves bitter in a single-wide arguing over who's turn it is to make the beer run? ( I know 'I' would )

Anonymous said...

As I'm oft want to do, prior to Labor Day, I'll look at weather around the region to see if there's perhaps a 'better' place we might want to spend it?

Must say, 'this' year is nothing short of -shocking-! Even Hawthorne, NV is slated to be 69 degrees by next Wed! ( Normally try around 109 for that time of the year ) As for Bend, it looks like ( while Sunny ) you too are falling off a CLIFF NLTN Sunday! 67 deg., are you kidding me? With a low of 36 btw.

Today in the Salem area we're predicting 83 for a high today and 85 for Friday. After that, we fall off the same cliff. I'll make a humble prediction that today and tomorrow will be OR's "Last Hurrah" for Summer 2010. These developments do NOT bode well for that much deserved Indian Summer fellas. For those that will punching a clock and working indoors these last two days.., this will be PURE TORTURE!!!