This could mean more flooding for Harney County

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

In anticipation that the spring of 2012 could bring as much water to the Harney Basin as the spring of 2011, representatives from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Boise, Idaho, attended the Harney County Court meeting on Dec. 7, to give an overview of programs the service offers.

Jay Breidenbach, warning coordination meteorologist, and Troy Lindquist, senior service hydrologist, said contrary to the most recent weather, they expect the winter snowfall to match that of last year. If this prediction comes to pass, there will be potential for spring flooding in Harney County such as last spring. With this forecast in mind, the NWS hopes to receive feedback from the county on how their services could be improved.

According to Breidenbach and Lindquist, there is still a La-Nina system impacting the weather, which means the northwest should see a wetter, colder winter. This could once again turn to a flooding situation.

During their presentation, Breidenbach and Lindquist said they would like to see an improved gauging system installed on the Silvies River, which would help the NWS issue more effective flood warnings. Using partnerships the NWS has with other agencies, they can model and predict future river stages, using stream flow, snow measurement, reservoir storage releases and flood control release decisions.

The service area for the NWS in Boise includes Harney, Malheur and Baker counties. The Burns/Hines community sits on the western edge of Boise Dopler radar’s reach. Several weather resources are available to the public, including sites with long-term and short-term outlooks, current snow measurements and river and stream observations. In addition to the online weather resources, the NWS has forecasters on duty around the clock and three administrative contacts are available for the county to reach in emergency instances.

Internet resources available are as follows:

Other county court business on Dec. 7 included:

• Judge Steve Grasty provided an update on the Sage Grouse Strategy, including what had been discussed at the Local Implementation Team meeting held on Dec. 6. He told the court the North Steens Transmission Line Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision would probably be signed on Dec. 21.

• The court discussed a meeting of the Energy Facility Siting Council that will be held on Dec. 9 in Hood River. The Oregon Natural Desert Association is once again requesting the council’s support of a legislative effort to define a single energy facility. Commissioner Pete Runnels will attend the meeting.

• A draft resolution on restrictions against use of land in proximity to wilderness or wilderness study areas was discussed. The resolution was drafted by the Oregon counties to the National Association of Counties.
• A discussion was held regarding filling the position of lead person of Public Health, Home Health and Hospice. Several options were considered. The court will hold an applicant screening during an executive session on Dec. 14.
• A meeting with those who were interested in volunteering for the Harney County Fair Board was held. Those interested in filling the vacancies on the board are Karen Moon, Joe Maher, Lincoln Reed-Nickerson, Brian Farrally, Pam Sherburn, Vern Brown, Jr., Valri Purdy, Julie Burri, Lloydene Hill and Kevin Pryse. The court will meet with current fair board members to get their recommendations on appointments. Prospective members were also asked to send letters stating their areas of interest and expertise.

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