Old Man Winter 1969

1969 — Winter came to the West End mooring basin along with the rest of the Lower Columbia region, blanketing ramps and boats in snow and coating the water with ice.

10 years ago this week — 2009

In a move eagerly anticipated by liquefied natural gas opponents on the North Coast, President Barack Obama has named Jon Wellinghoff acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the five-member board that oversees the LNG permitting process.

The move, together with likely changes to the board’s makeup in the coming months and pending challenges to the U.S. Court of Appeals, could have consequences for the Bradwood Landing LNG project, the frontrunner among three LNG proposals in Oregon.

Wellinghoff, a Democrat, was the lone dissenting vote on the Bradwood project, which was approved by FERC in a 4-1 vote in September.

Thousands of Oregon jobs vanished in December, sending unemployment rates in a third of the state’s 36 counties soaring beyond 10 percent.

On the North Coast, the picture wasn’t quite so bleak, though local communities are seeing the effects of the national economic recession.

Clatsop County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent in December from 6.3 percent in November — up significantly from 5.8 percent in December 2007. But it was still the third-lowest in the state and far below the statewide average of 9 percent unemployment.

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals remanded the Clatsop County Commission’s approval of the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas project Tuesday.

The board found fault with the county’s finding that the facility is “small or moderate” in scale and that requirements to protect salmon and traditional fishing areas had been met.

50 years ago — 1969

Old Man Winter clamped an icy hand on the Sunset Empire Sunday night, strangling traffic, forcing closure of all schools in Clatsop County today, and making driving hazardous on all major highways.

Across the river, most meetings were canceled as five to seven inches of snow fell in Chinook and Oysterville. Many businesses were at a standstill for all but those who were in walking distance.

State patrols recommended use of chains on highways on both sides of the river.

Plight of elk and deer, several reportedly starving to death in the southeast end of Clatsop County, is termed drastic by local sportsmen and some farmers and ranchers in the Jewell and Birkenfeld areas.

On the basis of this information, District Judge Harold T. Johnson today sent a letter to the Oregon Game commission office, Salem, recommending the agency investigate this situation.

Many local sportsmen are also concerned with depletion of the winter elk herd through starvation, by forages of predatory animals and the upcoming archery season.

Several farmers in the Jewell area have been feeding the hungry animals that came down from higher elevations in search of lowland food. Snow in the area is up to three feet deep, however, making natural feeding almost impossible for the game animals.

The old-timer in the knitted wool stocking cap stamped the snow off his boots. “If you think this is bad, you should have been here in January, 1930.”

Well, old-timer, yes and no. Comparing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Weather Bureau Meteorological records of January 1930 with those of this month, the situation then was more drastic and weather conditions were more severe because of ice, not snow. Snow for January 1930 was only 8.5 inches.

Editions of the Astorian-Budget through January 1930 headlined the fact that the river was frozen across from Wauna to The Dalles. The narrow channel of water at Astoria was afloat with huge chunks of ice, making traffic for small boats or those with wooden hulls impossible.

The 620-foot tanker Eagle Courier, en route to sea from the Union Oil Co. dock in Portland, went aground at 8:15 a.m. today on Jim Crow sands about 15 miles east of Astoria.

It was refloated two hours later on a rising tide with the aid of the Knappton Towboat Co. tug Noydena and proceeded to Astoria.

75 years ago — 1944

Coast guardsmen continued today in their stubborn task of trying to get the beached deep sea boat Electra off the sands of Clatsop spit, and they were not having a great deal of success.

The have lashed empty metal drums around the Electra’s hull, in the hope that they would lift the foundered boat on the incoming tide. That has not worked, yet. They have dropped a heavy anchor off shore, then with a series of pulleys have tried to pull her into the water. That has not worked, yet. But the guardsmen are continuing their efforts, and not without hope. The Electra went aground Wednesday night.

U.S. Army engineers today left a dark picture of the Northwest billion-dollar salmon industry future in outlining a program for construction of more than 100 dams on the Columbia River.

Before representatives of salmon packers here, Col. Ralph A. Tudor, U.S. Army district engineer, yesterday told commercial fishermen and representatives of game commissions from the four Northwest states that the importance of the Columbia River salmon run would be small compared with the billions of dollars that could be expected from industrial growth in the Northwest through Columbia River power.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Daily Astorian. Contact him at beachduke@gmail.com

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