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Posts tagged as “Oregon coast”

Enough, already!

rainey

We here on the central Oregon coast have been concerned about rain - or the lack of it - for the last several years. Rain is not usually seen as a nuisance in these parts. It’s our life blood. For many reasons. But we’re catching up. And I’m more than ready for some blue sky. Damn, it’s wet!

Since 2012, rivers have been too low for many of the Salmon to reach their spawning grounds. That’s adversely impacted both commercial and sport fishing industries. What river flows there have been are reaching the ocean too warm for several fish and animal species. Starfish are almost gone. Sea anemones are disappearing. Many sea lions and otters have been forced further North to find colder waters. Lobster and crab seasons have been less than record-setting. All because of a stretch of unusually low rainfall.

But we’ve had some recent relief. We’re wet. Boy, are we wet! The last couple of months we’ve been so soaked the animals are walking in twos. I’ve been to the dictionary three times to check the length of a cubit. We are - to put it dryly - soaked.

“How wet is it,” you ask?

Well, let’s take our own little coastal puddle as an example. First 22 days of December, we had just over 22 inches. Average an inch a day. Rained every damned day! Double normal December rainfall. A good number of folks from Waldport to Tillamook have been flooded out. In one Newport neighborhood, an elderly lady just made it out the front door before her house split right down the middle and half of it slid 70 feet into a ravine. Highway 101 - our asphalt link to each other - has several places where guardrail posts are hanging exposed over open space left when slides took out the earth underneath. Other places where pavement has shifted, lifted or sunk.

Between Roseburg on I-5 and the coast, Highway 42 is the main route. It was closed by a slide that just kept moving. Took transportation folks were a month getting even one-way traffic. You could stand there for days and hear the trees crack as the ground kept moving downhill under them.

But, let’s put all this wet excess in perspective. The whole State of Oregon gets about 42 inches of rain a year. Pretty dry over on the East side so the average statewide is higher West of the Cascades. Coastal average is over 70 inches. Still, it’s pretty liveable. Most of the time. On average. But, remember: you can drown in the water held in a tablespoon - on average.

We do have our special occasions - to put it mildly. The day after Christmas, 1926, the stretch from Newport to Lincoln city got hit with - are you ready for this - 10.98 inches in 24 hours. In 24 hours! Imagine what that would do in your own neighborhood. Pictures taken in the aftermath of that 1926 soaking show nearly all roads impassable - hardly a building left undamaged. In some places, hardly a building left all, in fact.

So, with those numbers and images in mind, our inch-a-day so far in December and much of January seems liveable. But it’s going to take several years of more-than-average rainfall to mend the fishery and habitat damages we’ve already seen. Local fishermen say they have to go many miles further away from the shoreline to find the usual schools of fish. Also, most of ‘em are using heavier weights to get nets to sink lower where the colder water is.

Oh, lodging and restaurant businesses have been cutting a fat hog during the extended summer dry spell in 2015. Tourist traffic - and the resulting tourist room taxes - set records. To the joy of local governments. Just one happy headline after another. But, those were just short term benefits of more than the usual amount of sunshine. The downside - and their certainly is one - is logging, fishing, crabbing and other outdoor industries have quietly lost ground without the usual rainfall. We’ll need an awful lot of wetness to make up.. It’ll take years.

So, as usual, Mother Nature seems to delight in feeding the needs of some of the population at a some cost to the rest. Whichever way it goes, somebody makes a buck and somebody else loses one.

But, consider this. With the resultant widespread coastal damages we’ve seen with our less-than-record rainfall of the past several years - not to mention that 1926 gully-washer - how do you suppose we’ll fare when that “big one” hits? When the ocean is pushed onshore 50-90 feet high at 75-100 miles an hour? Given what we know about what’s been - and it ain’t been nearly anything like that - what will be left around here? Who will be left around here?

Aw, maybe we can live with an inch of rain a day. But I’ll still cuss every time I take the dog out.

This has to stop

raineylogo1

We here on the central Oregon coast have been concerned about rain - or the lack of it - for the last several years. Rain is not usually seen as a nuisance in these parts. It’s our life blood. For many reasons. But we’re catching up. And I’m more than ready for some blue sky. Damn, it’s wet!

Since 2012, rivers have been too low for many of the Salmon to reach their spawning grounds. That’s adversely impacted both commercial and sport fishing industries. What river flows there have been are reaching the ocean too warm for several fish and animal species. Starfish are almost gone. Sea anemones are disappearing. Many sea lions and otters have been forced further North to find colder waters. Lobster and crab seasons have been less than record-setting. All because of a stretch of unusually low rainfall.

But we’ve had some recent relief. We’re wet. Boy, are we wet! The last couple of months we’ve been so soaked the animals are walking in twos. I’ve been to the dictionary three times to check the length of a cubit. We are - to put it dryly - soaked.

“How wet is it,” you ask?

Well, let’s take our own little coastal puddle as an example. First 22 days of December, we had just over 22 inches. Average an inch a day. Rained every damned day! Double normal December rainfall. A good number of folks from Waldport to Tillamook have been flooded out. In one Newport neighborhood, an elderly lady just made it out the front door before her house split right down the middle and half of it slid 70 feet into a ravine. Highway 101 - our asphalt link to each other - has several places where guardrail posts are hanging exposed over open space left when slides took out the earth underneath. Other places where pavement has shifted, lifted or sunk.

Between Roseburg on I-5 and the coast, Highway 42 is the main route. It’s closed by a slide that won’t quit moving. Transportation folks say it could be several months before there’s even one-way traffic. You can stand there and hear the trees crack as the ground keeps moving downhill under them.

But, let’s put all this wet excess in perspective. The whole State of Oregon gets about 42 inches of rain a year. Pretty dry over on the Eastern side so the average statewide is higher West of the Cascades. Coastal average is over 70 inches. Still, it’s pretty liveable. Most of the time. On average.

But we do have our special occasions - to put it mildly. The day after Christmas, 1926, the stretch from Newport to Lincoln city got hit with - are you ready for this - 10.98 inches in 24 hours. In 24 hours! Imagine what that would do in your own neighborhood. Pictures taken in the aftermath of that 1926 soaking show nearly all roads impassable - hardly a building left undamaged. In some places, hardly a building left all, in fact.

So, with those numbers and images in mind, our inch-a-day so far this month seems liveable. But it’s going to take several years of more-than-average rainfall to mend the fishery and habitat damages we’ve already seen. Local fishermen say they have to go many miles further away from the shoreline to find the usual schools of fish. Also, most of ‘em are using heavier weights to get nets to sink lower where the colder water is.

Oh, lodging and restaurant businesses have been cutting a fat hog during our extended dry spell. Tourist traffic - and the resulting tourist room taxes - have set records. To the joy of local governments. Just one happy headline after another. But, those are just short term benefits of more than the usual amount of sunshine. The downside - and their certainly is one - is logging, fishing, crabbing and other outdoor industries have quietly lost ground without the usual rainfall. We’ll need an awful lot of wetness to make up for our long dry spell. It’ll take years.

So, as usual, Mother Nature seems to delight in feeding the needs of some of the population at a some cost to the rest. Whichever way it goes, somebody makes a buck and somebody else loses one.

But, consider this. With the resultant widespread coastal damages we’ve seen with our less-than-record rainfall of the past several years - not to mention that 1926 gully-washer - how do you suppose we’ll fare when that “big one” hits? When the ocean is pushed onshore 50-90 feet high at 75-100 miles an hour? Given what we know about what’s been - and it ain’t been nearly anything like that - what will be left around here? Who will be left around here?

Aw, maybe we can live with an inch of rain a day. But I’ll still cuss every time I take the dog out.

Open for business

raineylogo1

ATTENTION Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Canada, et al: The Pacific Ocean is OPEN.

Traditionally, Memorial Day is the start of “the season” and, equally traditionally, it runs through Labor Day. I’m not so sure that holds true now as much as it used to since we’ve gotten more mobile and have the ol’ I-net to keep us connected for business, education or “reality.” To me, it seems to run from Spring Break to about mid-October. At least from traffic on our little piece of shoreline. But tradition is - well, tradition.

Life for we “locals” changes during the extended summer. Lots of little things visitors don’t see. For one thing, when driving Highway 101 through the downtown of any Oregon coastal community “in season,” locals learn to drive only in the right hand lane. That’s because there are always - ALWAYS - tourists who will try to make a left hand turn off 101 to get to the ocean. Typically, they do so at the intersection where the big “NO LEFT TURN” sign is posted. Above the painted arrow. Next to the flashing light.

If you live here all year, you spend some of your time researching alternate driving routes to get around town. May mean 10 or more stop signs from one end to the other but you stay off the main drag as much as possible. So, for half the year, local commutes to church or shopping - or the bar - take us a bit longer.

Locals hit the grocery stores during earlier hours in the summer. That’s because tourists who shop, do so later in the afternoon. After a day in surf, sand, wind and sunburns. We don’t usually shop Monday-Wednesday since many restaurants are closed those days. When visitors find those doors locked, grocery stores get crowded as people line up in late afternoon at Safeway and Fred Meyer for the usual vacation health foods - chips, Ding-Dongs and beer. Others travel in RV’s so they do much of their own cooking.

In our part of the central Oregon coast, the license plates we see most are from Washington and California. My guess is that’s because Oregon is the only West Coast state with an “open beach” law. Took the late Gov. Tom McCall two terms in office and all his political capital to get that mandate on the books despite voter and legislative opposition. Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Red Lion and many other “biggies” have tried to bust through. So far, the Oregon Supreme Court has rejected all comers. And McCall is revered for his perseverance.

Washington and California people either understand that or have unknowingly taken advantage of what Gov. Tom labored so hard to get into law. In those two states - and all but one other on the East and West coasts - unfettered access to the ocean is available only with city-county-federal land ownership or other designated public space. Hotels, tribes and folks with deep, deep pockets have bought up most of it and locked the rest of us out. Not so Oregon. Doubt it ever will be.

The next most seen license plates in our neighborhood are Canadian - British Columbia and Alberta. Lots of ‘em. Especially when their dollar buys more in the U.S. than at home. We’ve met many in the winter. Oregon is “snowbird” territory for them with December-January temperatures here 30-40 degrees warmer than their native land. I’ve found them - on the whole - to be friendlier than a lot of American tourists. And generally better stewards of the areas where they recreate or park their RV’s.

You don’t need a calendar to know when Memorial Day arrives near the Pacific. Just watch prices at gas stations. We pay more per gallon than anywhere else in the state year ‘round. But, end of May, add 20-30-cents per gallon. And don’t give me any B.S. about “refinery shortages” or “drops in oil reserves” or “prices at the wellhead.” In the local paper, some weeks ago, the largest wholesaler on the coast was asked why our prices are always higher - especially in the Summer months. His ballsy answer - “Because we can.”

Summer on the Oregon Coast is also a time to “get-out-of-Dodge” for a lot of locals. Many rent their homes May-September and head inland. Or South. Income at home to offset expenses on the road.

Nothing brings strangers to the Oregon coast more than weather forecasts. In Spring and Fall, it’s the ones with blue skies and temps in the 60's-70's. In the Winter, nothing swells the local population like a really good storm prediction. Thunder, lightening and high winds - coupled with a good Oregon wine and a fire - seem to be magnetic to lots of folks East of the Cascades and in the Portland area.

November through March, you see lots of empty storefronts or seemingly permanent “Closed” signs on the coast. Two reasons for that. First, some operate on a part-time basis like candy, small restaurants or novelty shops with their wind socks and kites. Tourists come - they open. Tourists go - they close.

Second, we get a lot of folks who’ve saved money for retirement so they could go into business turning a hobby into a second career or even something entirely new. Living the American dream. Unfortunately, when the summer is over, so is the income it takes to stay in business 12 months a year. A lot of ‘em don’t plan for that or find year-round expenses higher here than they’re used to. Happens a lot.

We locals have a few other little secrets for living with the seasonal interlopers. I can’t share ‘em all. Local privilege, don’t you know. Besides, we all take an oath when we start paying local taxes.

But the “OPEN” sign is out. Y’all come. We’ll deal with it.