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From Flood to Freeze

By SUE RYAN

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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