FAQs

The Oregon Climate Service fields calls and e-mails from people all over the world who are curious about Oregon’s unique climate and weather. The following are a sample of the more frequently asked questions that we receive.

I’m looking for climate data that used to be archived on your site. How can I find it?

    When our old server crashed, we decided that we needed a new, more efficient method for handling climate data – one that would absolve us from being paralyzed by software failures and server crashes. We are also trying not to duplicate efforts by our colleagues in other offices.The newest iteration of the site offers a few ways to access the data. This map will direct you to a network of sites across the that collect climate data. They are archived at the National Climatic Data Center and you can download various data from there at the monthly time scale.If you’re looking for a quick reading from the last 5 years, they are available for viewing at the National Weather Service. Just go to weather.gov and click on the general area in Oregon. On the left-hand side (blue bar) select local under “Climate”, then preliminary monthly climate data, your city, and then the month/year. This function is available for most of the population centers in Oregon. (typically airport stations).If you can’t find what you’re looking for at NCDC, you can request the data using our form.And since it’s our home station, we’ll continue to archive the Corvallis (Hyslop Farm) climate data on our site.

I miss your forecasts! How will I know what the weather will be like?

    We leave the forecasting up to our colleagues at the National Weather Service, who have much better tools and experience in predicting short-term weather. The offices that serve Oregon are Portland, Medford, Pendleton and Boise.

I’m looking for something that used to be on your old site but can’t find it.

    When the server crashed, we lost a lot of files, but we were successful at restoring some. Send an e-mail to oregon@coas.oregonstate.edu, and we’ll try to help you out.

What is the difference between weather and climate?

    Weather is generally the “here and now” and climate is an average of all weather variables over a given time for a place.“It’s raining in Bend today” is weather.“the average precipitation in Corvallis in December is 7.83 inches” is climate.

I want to move to Oregon, but I hate the rain. Will I be able to handle living there?

    Oregon only partially lives up to its rainy reputation. Most of the state’s population lives in the Willamette Valley, which receives about 40-50” of rain annually. That annual amount is similar to Boston or New York, but most of the rain in Oregon falls between October and March, as opposed to year-round. Summers in Oregon are typically dry, with the occasional passing shower or thunderstorm. East of the Cascades, the mountain range creates a “rain shadow”, which helps to keep things pretty dry year-round. The precipitation that does fall usually falls as snow. Outside of the Willamette Valley – parts of Oregon are extremely wet (parts of the Coast Range receive upwards of 200” of precipitation a year) and parts are quite dry, such as arid southeastern Oregon.

I’m planning a beach vacation this summer to the Oregon Coast. What is the weather like in July?

    The Oregon Coast is a lovely destination. However, if you’re picturing a vacation filled with fruity drinks and tanning – it might not be the place for you. If you visit the Oregon Coast, be prepared for cool air temperatures and cold ocean temperatures, even in the summer months. Maximum temperatures in the summer are usually in the mid 60s. The coast is often a summer refuge for residents of the Willamette Valley, who head west to escape the sometimes scorching inland summer temperatures.

We’re planning an outdoor wedding in June. Will it rain?

    We’d love to tell you that it’s going to be a beautiful, sunny and dry day. The problem is – we can’t. Weather forecasting is very accurate to about 5 days out.Beyond that, the best information comes from climatology and sometimes from seasonal forecasts (see next item).  We know that June June tends to be pretty dry, so the odds are in your favor for a dry day (as opposed to say, December). Check out climatologies for cities in Oregon here.

The news tells me that this is an El Niño (La Niña) year. Why does this matter?

    El Niño (ENSO, or El Niño Southern Oscillation) is an area of warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. It tends to affect large scale atmospheric circulations and tilts the odds toward a warm/dry winter in the Pacific Northwest. However, it’s important to note that the warm/dry is usually a seasonal average, weather is variable within each season. Also, while the odds are in favor of a warm/dry winter – it doesn’t always pan out.The reverse is true for La Niña, an area of cooler than average sea surface temperatures, which tends to bring cool/wet winters to the Pacific Northwest. The dividing line between warm/dry and cool/wet tends to hover around the OR/CA border, so southern Oregon is not as affected by ENSO as the northern part of the state. Click here for more on ENSO.

Tell me a bit about climate change. Is it happening? What does it mean for Oregon?

    The earth is warming and human activities are likely the cause of this warming. The Oregon Climate Service is part of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University. Check out occri.net for more on climate change science, and relevant research on climate change impacts in the state and region.

You didn’t cover my question here. How do I get in touch?

    Send us an e-mail at oregon@coas.oregonstate.edu.