I’m frequently asked about snowfall in Bend. Most people who ask believe that Bend receives very little, if any, snow in town. I remind people that Bend is “snow country,” and we’re going to get snow every year. We might not get feet of snow in town but we typically get enough snow to cause problems, especially if you’re not prepared. I think it’s fair to say, “don’t expect anything but be prepared for everything, especially SNOW.”
Given that snowfall appears to be on a few minds, here’s some info:
· On average Bend gets about 23 inches of snow a year, but according to the data the snow doesn’t all come in one month. It’s more or less evenly spread over the core winter months (December, January, and February).
· Bend gets 6 inches of snow in December, January, and February, according to USClimateData.com. However, as someone who lives here, those accumulation numbers seem a little off. It feels like in recent years we’re getting more and more of our snow in December, with maybe a supplementary dump in late February.
Of course, just when I think we’re settling into an annual winter pattern everything gets turned on its head. Winter 2016/2017 is looking like a potential record setter. At my house in downtown Bend, we had close to two feet on the ground in mid-February. Old timers keep telling me “this is how winters used to be.” I don’t expect this winter to become the new normal, but I do think that Mother Nature is letting us know that she’s still in control.
My advice is “Be Prepared!” and consider snow when shopping for houses. There are some crazy steep driveways up on Awbrey Butte and some super long ones out in Tumalo. How are you going to deal with these when the snow starts to dump?
Each year is different, and you can’t really predict from one year to the next what the snow levels will be. All I know is that when I moved here from Eastern Washington I considered selling my snow blower because I had been told Bend didn’t get a ton of snow, and when it did, it didn’t stay. Needless to say, I’m glad I held onto the snow blower. What a terrible decision selling it would have been.
So, plan for snow, but hope it stays up at Mount Bachelor.
Winter items to think about when buying a house in Bend.
· Is there an HOA that will take care of snow removal? If you’re moving to Bend to retire consider buying a house in an HOA because then you don’t have responsibility for snow removal, which can be physically demanding and not a whole ton of fun. When the snow really hits it can be extremely difficult to find someone to clear your driveway.
· How steep is the driveway? When it snows in Bend icy and slick roads are sure to follow. Sunny days and frigid nights lead to black ice that might stick around for awhile. Does your car have AWD? Think about buying snow tires.
· What’s the elevation of your potential new house? The higher your elevation the more snow you’re going to get and the longer it’s going to stick around. Sunriver gets more snow than Bend and Redmond gets less.
· How much sun does your potential new property get? Bend gets a lot of sun, with some folks boasting 300 days of sun a year. Your new location might not be that lucky. Sun is the great equalizer in Bend. Our summers come late and our winters drag out. Having clear southern exposure can really help melt snow and make winter temperatures feel a lot warmer than they actually are.
· Who maintains the roads leading up to your house? Bend has some serious issues with snow removal. You might end up waiting days to have the city clear your streets. Would you be able to go out for the necessities if there was 12” of untrodden snow on the ground?
· What kind of roof is on the house, will it hold snow or shed the snow? Where does the snow fall when it comes off the roof?
· Does the house have gutters? How will they hold if ice damns form?
· Buy these items so you’re prepared when it does snow: snow shovel, roof rake, snow melt, and a windshield scraper. Also consider some yaktrax.
Don’t let what you read in Travel magazine fool you, Bend is snow country! Sure, we’ll go a number of winters without much snow but one of these years it’s coming. The winter of 2016/17 is testament to the punch a winter can pack. When looking for your new house, think about the impact snow will have on your new living situation. Hopefully the snow stays in the mountains, but be ready for when old man winter pays Bend a visit.