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Deadwood endures yet another wet year.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

DEADWOOD - A light drizzle backlit by fleeting sun fell outside Ray and Kathy Robinson's cozy home nestled between Coast Range ridges on a tributary of Deadwood Creek.

Then the next surge of clouds obscured the sun, and the full-on rain resumed.

"Yesterday for about 10 minutes, you wouldn't have wanted to be outside," Robinson said, looking out the dining room window. That's when pea-sized hail pelted the ground.

While many of us in the southern Willamette Valley have moped through this soggy November - 12.94 inches as of Thursday, 6.64 inches more than normal - we've got nothing on the folks in Deadwood.

Robinson has a rain gauge he checks daily, and he keeps careful records. As of 9 a.m. Friday, 32.1 inches of rain had fallen at his place this month.

Over at his neighbor Ellis Worthylake's, the rain gauge tally as of Friday morning was 31.95 inches.

They know rain in Deadwood. The tiny town on Highway 36 about 40 miles west of Junction City consistently gets about 2.5 times the precipitation that falls in Eugene, Robinson said.

Worthylake has seen some impressive totals this month: 5.1 inches on Nov. 4, 6.2 inches on Nov. 7.

So far this year, Robinson has measured 95.8 inches. The National Weather Service total for Eugene is 40.24 inches.

Robinson, a retired railroad brakeman turned landscaper, didn't know about Deadwood's rain when he and his wife, Kathy, moved there from Eugene 11 years ago.

They just knew they had stumbled onto 41 acres of paradise, a place for Robinson to indulge his passion for trains. Over the years, he has installed an 18-gauge railroad track - the size used in mines - on his land. The track runs along the creek, crossing it in a couple of places before looping by the pond known as Lake Kathleen. Robinson, whose small trains have been featured in magazines and on TV shows, has learned just what the rain can do to his usually narrow creek. In a couple of big storms it has spread to 150 feet, lapping against his railroad bridges and spreading across his yard.

Ever the optimist, he sees the upside of the downpour - the moisture-laden clouds have just traversed the ocean, as opposed to a continent heavy with polluting industries, so he figures his rain is about the most pristine precipitation around.

Robinson and Worthylake's records don't surprise meteorologist Tyree Wilde, who supervises Oregon's volunteer weather spotters for the National Weather Service in Portland.

"These strong moisture-laden Pacific storms, as soon as they hit a mountain barrier, the air gets lifted and it wrings out all that moisture," Wilde said.

Some places in the Coast Range get more than 200 inches in a year, which is why the region grows such enormous trees. "That's why they call it a rain forest," Wilde said.

It was in the Coast Range - at Lee's Camp just east of Tillamook on Highway 6 - where the state set a new record for 24-hour rainfall this month: 14.3 inches on Nov. 6. That shattered the old record of 11.65 inches at Port Orford on Nov. 19 in 1996, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain's nothing new to Worthylake, who grew up in Mapleton and Florence.

"We're used to it. We're born and raised in it," he said.

And it hasn't interfered with the Robinsons' passion for their place. The rain is just part of the wildness they love - the bears that steal apples from their fruit trees, the elk that wander down from the ridges, the mountain lions that keep a keen eye on their ducks and the coyotes that have tussled with their dogs.

They've learned to cope with the realities of storms. Last week, they lost power eight times; the longest outage lasted six hours. But they've got a wood stove and several propane lights. When the winds blow, they don't leave the house without a chain saw, in case any downed trees block the road.

By their front door they've got a barrel of umbrellas, handy for rail-road loving guests who frequently stop by.

And Worthylake has this advise for valley dwellers: "Have lots of rain gear and patience."

Both will come in handy next week. Rain and showers are predicted through Friday, with temperatures likely to drop below freezing on Monday, and even a slight chance of snow in the valley Monday and Tuesday nights.
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Title Annotation:Weather; One dedicated resident has recorded 32.1 inches of rain at his house this month
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 25, 2006
Previous Article:Scientists studying fractal recognition.
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