Dreaming of a green Christmas

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer December 22, 2011 09:46 pm
Northeast Oregon residents are singing different versions of Christmas carols this holiday season.

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like April.”

“Spring Wonderland.”

“Dashing though the Grass.”

“Let it Blow. Let it Blow. Let it Blow.”

“Green Christmas.”

The woman across the street was mowing her yard Monday. In a normal December, she would have been mowing not grass and leaves but snow.

Yes, it’s dry, folks. So far this December La Grande has been drier than Tucson, Ariz. Way drier. As of this morning, La Grande had recorded no official precipitation for December, while Tucson has received more than two inches of rain.

Perhaps you remember the driest December in La Grande in the last 30 years. That was 1986, when .14 of an inch of precipitation fell.

In a normal December,

La Grande would receive about 1.86 inches of precipitation and be ankle deep in snow and Christmas presents.

January is generally La Grande’s snowiest month, with December and November coming in a close second.

According to Robert Cramp, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pendleton, the reason we have been so dry is that a high-pressure system has camped out over the Northwest like a broke-down hippie bus and diverted all storm systems either north or south.

In typical years, Cramp said, the storms often line up three deep off the Pacific coast waiting for their chance to come inland and snow on our parade.

“Now these storms are much farther out in the central Pacific,” Cramp said. “We can see them on the satellite.”

La Niña is back for a second straight year and, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the strange and unusual weather pattern should persist through the end of winter.

Last year that gave us a snowy December. Then, after a relatively dry January and February, we got the second wettest spring in Oregon history, proving the wethead is not dead.

Of course, the weather, like the economy, is difficult to predict. The weather could change any day, and we could still reach our average in the last 10 days of the month.

I hope we don’t. Like the checkout person at the store, I think snow looks nice up on the mountains, where it belongs. My dad, a letter carrier for the postal service back when people still wrote personal letters, said the same thing about as often as he pounded on the radio to make the Paul Harvey news program come in clearer.

Since I live on a cliff, and don’t own the official vehicle of the U.S. ski team, I’d rather not see tons of snow.

If we don’t get snow soon, I’ll be missing watching all those Portland TV correspondents freaking out over a light dusting.

If we don’t get snow soon, Santa will have to get wheels for the sleigh.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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