Duck Duck Book

37- portland oregon weather
10.1.2006, 2:11 pm
Filed under: science

Portland, Oregon weather and climate : a historical perspective : a collection of news reports, stories, comments and analysis / by Raymond R. Hatton.
Bend, OR : Geographical Books, c2005.
[MCL call number: 551.69795 H366p 2005; two copies, no holds; one copy reference only at Central Library]

I am sure that people discuss the weather everywhere, but sometimes it seems that in Portland, we talk about it more. In the winter we complain about the rain and the gray skies, and remark hopefully on the sun whenever it is available. In the spring, we complain about the rain and the gray skies and the mud, and wonder if it will ever get warm again. In the summer we complain about the clouds and the rain until August when there is no rain, and then we complain that it isn’t raining. In the fall, we wonder when the rain will return until it does, and then we start complaining that it is dark and damp all the time.

And then there’s the worry about climate change. Everyone says we had colder winters when they were growing up. One of my grandfathers told me stories about the Willamette River freezing so hard you could walk across it, but I’ve never seen even a little bit of ice in that river. Did it really rain on my mid-summer birthday four years out of five, in my childhood? Were there more late winter ice storms then too? If so, do these facts imply something about shifts in our local climate?

Well, weather changes over time, there is no doubt. People have been keeping track of climatic data (high and low temperatures, precipitation, etc.) in Portland since the 1870s, and Raymond Hatton brings this data together with newspaper accounts of weather events, and Portland residents’ memories of weather in past years. There is a chapter for each month, and one for each season, as well as a few introductory and final chapters explaining context, and discussing special subjects such as drought and television reporting of Portland weather. It’s not a masterful narrative, nor is it a dry recitation of facts — Portland, Oregon Weather and Climate is the kind of book that you’d really need if you were writing a scrupulously detailed historical novel set in Portland, or if your research into a specific element of Portland history necessitated your knowing more about the Vanport Flood of 1948 (“May 1948,” pages 201-205) or if it’s really true that it always rains during Rose Festival (“June,” pages 212-238). And it is fascinating for anyone who enjoys the trivia of local history.

The book suffers from the lack of an index, but the general arrangement of the chapters is fairly helpful for locating specific weather history information.


2 Comments so far
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You used the word “climactic” in the 3rd paragraph, 2nd line on this summary page. The word should be “climatic”. Climactic has to do with “climax”. Climatic relates to “climate”.

Comment by Celia

Oh my, thank you! I guess that’s the risk one runs, relying on spell check.

Comment by Emily-Jane

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