This past winter has been noticeably warm. According to the AccuWeather website, December recorded a high of 63℉ with a low of only 30℉. In January, the high was a comfortable 71℉ with a low of 36℉. It was only below freezing 15 times in the past three months.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Forestry have a season climate forecast for the months of March to May. La Niña conditions are being observed which will “increase the chances for cool temperatures and some recovery of mountain snowpacks, which are currently well-below average.”
Roseburg sits in a valley which seldom gets snow. Roseburg’s average snowfall is one inch compared to the average 25.8 inches for the United States. As a state, Oregon as a whole hasn’t seen much snow this winter season either which is alarming because the snow in the mountains provides water during the summer. With a low snowpack, a summer drought may be likely, according to the U.S. News and World Report website. As of February 6, an Oregon drought conditions map provided by plantmaps.com has Roseburg at abnormally dry.
The water source is not the only thing that should be a concern.
According to Chet Behling, stewardship forester for ODF, 12,300 acres were mapped recently just in Wasco County as being affected by drought-related stress and/or bark beetles. The beetles like the warm weather so it could be a possibility that they find their way back to Central Oregon feasting on the beautiful flora.
Forester at OSU Extension Services Nicole Strong advises to keep piles of firewood and sticks away from the trees because that is where the bark beetles tend to breed.
Some plants have even started blooming early this year. The early bloom can cause stress on the plants when the temperature fluctuates like it has been. The new growth could be damaged due to the shock of a freeze. Covering plants at night, or bringing small ones inside, can potentially help keep them healthy.
With all of this in mind, the snow has finally arrived. On February 22, campus was closed due to dangerous road conditions. On February 23, there was a two hour delay issued. It has been snowing on and off since Sunday February 18 in other cities and mountain ranges around Roseburg. However, Weather.com does not show snow in the next 10 day forecast.