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Home arrow Opinion arrow Jeff Petersen: ON SECOND THOUGHT arrow On Second thought Jeff Petersen


On Second thought Jeff Petersen

First there was the friendly El Nino, or “The Boy” climate pattern, which spread warmth and dryness across the land.

Then there was its evil sister La Nina. “The Little Girl” brought us snow, ice and Portland Channel 2 1/2’s frequent declarations of impending doom.

Northeast Oregon has one more climate pattern. So far, though, it has received little publicity even though it is more diabolical. We’ll call it El Nina, or “Chica rugiente,” “The Girl that Roared,” although the actual Spanish translation is probably “Hank the Cross Dresser.”

El Nina makes El Nino and La Nina look as tame as politicians at a party function.

How else to explain the scouring El Nina winds that shape the character of the Grande Ronde Valley every winter and cause us to be champion debaters on every subject, but especially proposed wind farms.

El Nino happens about every five years. It usually brings a warmer, drier winter — and a big smile to the face.

La Nina, The Boy’s evil sister, wipes that grin away faster than we can say “freeway closure.”

La Nina brings colder, wetter winters, grimaces and scowls.

El Nina, The Little Girl’s evil twin, is exclusively ours. It brings us more than just winter weather; it brings us strange weather the year around.

El Nina brings us clouds in need of anger counseling. El Nina brings lightning in overdrive, beastly winds, blistering days, blizzards and brutal winter storms.

El Nina can knock the grin off a border collie, the croon out of a coyote and the gee whiz out of views.

El Nina can knock the dim out of a dimwit, the doom out of a doomsayer and the slime out of a slimeball.

From all indications, El Nina starts with rises in the surface pressure over the Baker Valley and a resulting fall in surface pressure over the Grande Ronde Valley.

Next thing, warm air rises near Mount Emily. From there extreme weather emanates — floods, droughts, the works.

If in doubt about what to blame, blame El Nina.

Mortgage crisis. Mill closures. Poverty. Pestilence. War. “American Idol” issues.

Blame El Nina.

Global warming. The healthcare crisis. Childhood obesity. Babies doing yoga.

Blame El Nina.

When the wind opens a can of whoop-em?

Blame El Nina.

This evil twin sister, though, does have a good side. It keeps Northeast Oregon remarkably free of riffraff. The street-corner racist with the megaphone will get knocked into the next area code by

El Nina’s winter winds. Human cockroaches, Gumpian nitwits and aggressively brainless citizens get chased away by the blistering summer heat. 

Even so, the people of Northeast Oregon, the characters with character, are resilient. We take El Nina in stride. It may blow our hair into the next country, and our dreams and goals like tumbleweed, and make us nerve-rattled enough to be champion debaters, but we survive anyway.

And even sometimes thrive.

Now if we can just find where our border collie’s grin got blown to.

Reach the author at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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