If this winter has seemed colder than usual, you’re right, according to Scott Hampton and his weather station in Joseph. Since he began keeping records in 1997, Hampton’s lowest reading was -21.5 degrees on Feb. 26, 2011. But at 2:40 a.m. last Wednesday (Feb. 6), he recorded -17.4 degrees, with a wind-chill of -28 degrees F. Not quite a record, but close.
“Even though we had some really beautiful weather that spoiled us for awhile, it’s turned cold recently,” Hampton said. “And we had a pretty good stretch of cold weather in December. We had our below zero that we usually have in January back in December, and now we’ve got this cold weather snap. It’s pretty rare that we have what we had on February 6: 17 below zero, and 28 below zero with wind chill.”
Hampton began tracking weather here in 1997. His work in the military and in wild land firefighting aroused an interest in tracking and understanding weather conditions. In 2001 he began sharing his local information through his website, Joseph Oregon Weather (www.josephoregonweather.com). The Pendleton NOAA station gets its data for Joseph from Hampton’s weather station.
The site now includes pages on earthquakes, lunar phases, and local weather conditions at Enterprise, Lostine, Wallowa, Troy, Imnaha, and Salt Creek Summit. You’ll find links to sites at Aneroid Lake and Mount Howard with daily updates on snowpack, and temperatures. There are graphs that depict Joseph temperatures, wind, and precipitation for the past 48 and 72 hours. In the summer, when thunderstorms loom, you can check the site’s Lightning Strike page for lightning strike locations.
The video cameras are perhaps the most popular feature of Hampton’s site. “ I’ve had pilots tell me that they always checked my site, and especially the photos, when they were flying into Joseph,” he said. The images update every minute, and Hampton strings them into a time-lapse look at daily weather. It’s a great way to watch weather systems move across the upper valley.
What’s his prediction for this winter? Pretty much in accord with the NRCS’s sophisticated hydrologic models.
“Every winter’s going to be a little different,” Hampton said. “My feel for this year vs past years, is that we’ll be below average on snow for the valley overall. In the mountains? A little below average for snowfall depths, but pretty much average on the moisture, maybe a little above.”
Joseph Oregon Weather is at www.josephoregonweather.com