From Flood to Freeze


News staff writer

December 2, 2006

Floods began and ice ended November for Hood River County.

The final day of the month was marked by ice and snow storms blanketing the area from Hood River to Cascade Locks. The weather halted traffic on I-84 when the highway closed from 2:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. from Hood River to Troutdale.

Thursday’s weather was a fitting end to a wet and wild month that broke precipitation records. That includes two of the wettest days of this month when 1.61 inches of ran fell on Nov. 6 and 1.97 inches fell Nov. 7.

Juan Rojas, farm manager at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, measured .28 inches of precipitation and 1.5 inches of snow Thursday morning. The center has the official weather station for Hood River County, with measurements going back to 1884.

Research center records show a total of 14.67 inches of precipitation for November 2006. State Meteorologist George Taylor said that beats the old record, a measurement taken at the same site, of 11.09 inches of precipitation in November 1973.

“November of ’73 is one of the wettest months we have ever had in the Northwest,” he said.

Taylor said the new wettest November for 2006 was unexpected by forecasters.

“I don’t think anybody really anticipated this wild of a month in November,” he said.

The National Weather Service had originally forecast a much drier month. Taylor had expected there to be some precipitation, but not as wet or as cold as it was in Hood River County.

Now that November has wrapped up, will December be any wetter?

“I think things are going to slow down much more than they have been,” Taylor said. “But the long-range models suggest that maybe in the second week of December it will get wet again.”

Traffic started to move closer to 10 a.m. when vehicles, especially a stream of semi-trucks held up by the storm, got rolling through the Gorge. Up until that point, two solitary trucks passed by the Herman Creek exit near Cascade Locks. While warmer temperatures took off the top coating of ice, the Oregon Department of Transportation still required chains in some sections due to slick conditions.

The weather brought flooding and landslides to Hood River County, causing millions of dollars in damages. This week a joint assessment team from the Oregon Emergency Management office and the FEMA toured the county.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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