By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Snow in November rare in these parts

Early blast of winter conjures memories of 1996

Rockne Roll/News-Register
Rockne Roll/News-Register

As I watched snowflakes drifting down at 3 a.m. Thursday, I realized this was the earliest snowfall I’d ever seen here.

The Yamhill Valley doesn’t get a lot of snow, for which I am grateful. And by the time it does, the calendar has usually turned to December or January.

We’ve had snow in February, too. We’ve even had dustings in March. And I remember driving through a snow-covered landscape to get to a Battle of the Books state final one April.

But in November, precipitation usually comes in the form of rain — lots of it. It soaks mats of fallen leaves and muddies sodden football fields.

While it’s unusual to see snow fall before Thanksgiving, it’s not unprecedented. In fact, I remember us having one of those rare early snowfalls in 1996 — not this early, but early enough to be noteworthy. 

On the morning of Nov. 18, photographer Tom Ballard and I drove into the hills west of Yamhill to watch heavy-duty wreckers pull a wrecked fire truck back onto the road. 

It was cold up there — very cold — but dry. We had no clue about what the afternoon would bring.

Snow began to fall shortly after lunch. It was just a few flakes fluttering down at first, then they began to come faster. And faster. And faster. Soon, the streets were soon cushioned in white.

About 5 p.m., I drove cautiously to a friend’s house to check on her pets, as she had left town that morning. As I crunched through the snow toward her front door, her big tomcat came running up and leaped into my arms, almost knocking me down.

That cat and I shared the same feelings about snow, I guess.

I stayed in McMinnville that night, rather than hazard the drive home to Carlton. The next day, as the snow was melting, I made it back to my house.

I found a large limb had broken off my oak tree. Luckily, it had landed in the back yard, causing no damage.

But many other places did suffer damage that year. Since trees still wore some or all of their leaves in mid-November, the heavy snow brought down many other limbs as well.

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