Oregon

Weathering It Well

Medford Mail Tribune | Dec. 6, 2012 10:35 p.m. | Updated: Dec. 7, 2012 6:35 a.m.

Contributed By:

chris conrad

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By chris conrad

Mail Tribune

You’d hardly expect a little rain — well, a lot of rain — this past week to keep Oregonians from going about their day-to-day business.

However, the record rains that ushered in December have dinged a few businesses and made some outdoor jobs less than pleasant.

Steven and Cindy Andrews spent Tuesday cutting down Christmas trees for customers visiting their tree farm, despite the drizzle that fell throughout the day.

When asked whether the rainy weather has hurt sales because people put off Christmas tree shopping in a storm, Steven Andrews laughed.

“Hey, this is Oregon,” he said. “People are used to some rain. They’ll still come and get Christmas trees.”

The couple own Yuletide Trees on Madrone Lane in west Medford, a 25-acre tree lot that grows prime Douglas firs that will decorate homes throughout the Rogue Valley this holiday season.

Cindy Andrews said the rain hasn’t hurt sales, but the business was forced to close Sunday after nearby Griffin Creek jumped its banks and flooded the tree farm.

“We closed for safety reasons,” she said. “We didn’t want people to walk out there when it had flooded.”

With only so many weekends left before Christmas, tree sellers have to make the most of their time.

But the Andrewses aren’t worried about more rain.

“We are seeing good sales,” Steven Andrews said.

Gene Wood, of Medford, waiting at the property for Andrews to chop him a tree, recalled a very different experience last year at Yuletide Trees.

“Last year at this time it was too dry,” Wood said. “We were kicking up dust as we walked out there.”

Last year’s arid weather damaged the trees, Wood said.

“This year’s trees will be healthier,” he said. “The needles fell off almost immediately last year because the trees were distressed.”

Meanwhile, across town at Food 4 Less, cart-pushers worked in the soggy weather to clear the store’s parking lot.

Christian Sweet, who works at the store, pushed a line of carts through puddles while keeping his eye out for motorists.

“I’ve seen a few people almost get hit out there when it rains,” he said. “There are some people who might drive a little too fast in the rain.”

Matt Morley, another Food 4 Less employee, says workers who venture outdoors need to be prepared.

“It’s not a bad job even in the rain,” he said. “But you need the right rain gear.”

Some businesses have prospered in the rain. Slakey Brothers, a plumbing wholesale supplier based in West Medford, found a brisk demand for flood-related items over the past week.

“We can’t keep sump pumps on the shelves,” said employee Tyler Winkle. “We had 13 in stock and could have sold 20, easily.”

The National Weather Service in Medford is calling for spots of rain throughout the week, with a possible break of sunshine coming on Thursday.

Today will see a 40 percent chance of rain during the day, with highs remaining a balmy 50 degrees.

By the weekend, the Rogue Valley could see partly sunny skies with temperatures creeping down into the 30s at night, which would be in line with this time of year.

The higher elevations are seeing ample snow, which benefits coat and gear sales at the Goodwill in Central Point, according to marketing and communications manager Julie Fletcher.

“People are very excited for Mount Ashland to open,” she said. “They are coming in to buy gear that they will take on the mountain.”

Tuesday’s warm temperatures likely put a dent in the ski area’s snow total, but the mountain’s website was still reporting 27 to 55 inches of snow and the ski area plans to open Thursday. Forecasts call for snow showers for the next several days and into next week.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.

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