After having watched countless TV weatherperson explanations about why Portland and the Willamette Valley are locked in a record-breaking snow and ice spell ("worst storm since 1968...40 years!") the solution is obvious:
Block off the goddamn Columbia Gorge.That's where the cold air keeps coming from.
I wouldn't have needed to put on and take off tire chains several times this week if it weren't for the gap between western and eastern Oregon that keeps on funneling frigid winds into the Portland area, and thence down into the usually temperate central valley.
Normally, as a card carrying 1000 Friends of Oregon member, I support preserving the environment.
But I also like being able to drive into Salem without slipping and sliding, and having our electricity stay on.
The final straw came when I took our dog for a walk this evening and discovered that when a large canine who has a decided tendency to pull on the leash is placed on an ice-covered road, the human holding the other end of the leash will be on the edge of his feet during a two mile meander under a freezing starry sky.
So when I got home, fed up with having to deal with cold air that should have the good sense to stay where it belongs on the other side of the Cascades, I did some research.
Not much, because I'd already made my mind up that a gate needs to be shut across the Columbia Gorge at the beginning of winter. A few seconds of Googling gave me a scientific rationale.
An impressively titled study: "The Structure and Dynamics of Columbia Gorge Gap Flow Revealed by High-Resolution Numerical Modeling."
Download Columbia Gorge wind study (large PDF file)
"Great impact on large 1 million plus population. Wind, frigid temperature, snow, freezing rain."
Exactly. So why do we keep putting up with this crap?
Obama is looking for large infrastructure projects to revive the economy. Constructing a gigantic gate across the gorge that shuts off the wind flow when it threatens to cause me to put on tire chains down here in Salem sounds like an excellent way to spend a few tens of billions of dollars.
More or less. I haven't worked out the cost. Nor how to build the gate. Or what the environmental consequences (aside from warmer air for me and other western Oregonians) would be.
I leave those minor details to others.
All I know is that more snow is forecast for Christmas Eve and we've got dinner reservations on the 25th for the vegetarian buffet at Salem's terrific Marco Polo Global Restaurant.
So build the Gorge Gate! Like, tomorrow. Or soon thereafter.
Dikes to keep out the North Sea have worked for the Dutch. No reason why the Willamette Valley can't have an air dike to keep out air from eastern Oregon.
Build, baby, build!