Third Driest January on Record

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EUGENE, Ore. — This January will go down as foggy and cold, but will not be remembered as wet! In fact, this was the third driest January ever recorded in Eugene. But does it matter? What does it mean to be five-and-a-half inches below average in rainfall, in what is normally our third wettest month of the year?

It turns out that Oregonians are tough when it comes to soggy winters. But this January, what most people will remember is not the rain or lack of it — they’ll remember the fog. Instead of 28 days of rain, it was 28 days of fog but when the fog did break, mother nature offered a rare opportunity for this time of year. Places like golf courses and parks have been a bit busier than usual.

“Acutally we’ve golfed a lot for winter time,” said golfer Charles Pace.

And not only has it been nice for people to leave the rain gear at home and get out and about. It turns out, we don’t actually need all of that rain. With a relatively wet November and December, the water table is fine, and our water storage is about average. We asked the Army Corps of Engineers on the state of our reservoirs and rivers as it’s this time of year at Cottage Grove lake and the other reservoirs in western Oregon that the main concern is preventing additional flooding down stream.

“Our primary goal right now is for flood risk management, we’re trying to reduce damages downstream in the even we have a high water event,” said Tami Schroeder of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We have minimum levels for target flows down stream, for endangered fish protection, and also for other mission requirements, and we havn’t had a problem meeting those minimum targets this year,” added Schroeder.

With just the right amount of water behind the dams and down stream, the next mission becomes preparing for the recreation season. But because they have four whole months to save water, this dry January doesn’t affect that much either.

“In February we start to slowly refill the reservoirs, most of them, in a normal year will refill by late may, and so they’ll gradually refill so that in the summer time one of our missions is recreation,” said Schroeder.

The start to 2013 has been a battle with the persistent fog and chilly mornings, but most say a break from the rain is a rare treat that they’ll take while the can get it until spring brings showers.

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