Linda, spouse and the Wada family weather junkie, has been looking at the last century of records for stories about Central Oregon’s historic droughts. The last one was a barn-burner: a seven-year drought that finally ended with the incredibly snowy winter of 1992-93. (That was our first winter living in Bend, and it was interesting, to say the least. We also experienced the drought and witnessed first-hand the water-starved fisheries.)
Bend also had a major drought peaking in 1939 (all time lowest rainfall of just over 8 inches, and the driest year since 1902). During that one, Crane Prairie Reservoir went DRY in July the following summer.
More droughts hit in 1968 and 1977. We are still uncovering the news stories, so there may have been other incidences, but these seem to be the major events.
The story about the last drought peaking in the summer of ’92, saw Davis Lake draining to 300 surface acres, literally a small stream meandering across the dry lake bed, with a pool of water at the inlet. Davis Lake is normally 2 by 3 miles in size. This linked article imay be best read by downloading it. Crane Prairie had dropped to 30% of capacity, Wickiup Reservoir to 10%, as of publication of the Bulletin article on October 20, 1992.
We are starting our fourth year of drought locally. Currently snow pack is 17% of historical average, ranking in the bottom 5% of all-time. Fish early and often, it may not last long.