Quick Facts


Geography

Sherman County, Oregon lies between the deep canyons of the John Day River on the east and the Deschutes River on the west in north central Oregon. The mighty Columbia River forms the boundary on the north. Much of the boundary on the south is defined by the rugged canyons of Buck Hollow, a tributary of the Deschutes.

The open rolling hills and steep narrow canyons of the county’s 831 square miles, approximately 20 miles wide and 42 miles long, range in elevation from 185 feet on the Columbia River to 3,600 feet on the plateau in the south.

The soil is mostly loess (wind-blown glacial silt) over residual soil from the underlying basalt with interspersed layers of volcanic ash.

Six small towns – Biggs, Rufus, Wasco, Moro, Grass Valley and Kent – provide basic services for the 1,750 residents of the County. The county seat is Moro, elevation 1,807'. The economy is based on wheat, barley, cattle and tourism.

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The People

Down-to-earth, friendly, hard-working people live in the six small communities, each approximately nine miles apart, and on outlying farms. The population is equally distributed, town and country. Many are descendants of early homesteaders and have strong ties to the land.

Businesses in Biggs, Rufus, Wasco, Moro and Grass Valley provide food and beverages, variety goods, antiques, a gallery, gifts, sporting services, farm and garden implements and supplies, hardware, quilting supplies, tires, fuel and mechanical repairs.

Baha'i, Baptist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Methodist and Presbyterian organizations are represented in the county.

Volunteers provide many important services including rural and city fire protection, rescue and medical response units, local government, youth activities and educational support.

Youth activities include school athletic programs, Little League,
4-H and FFA, church groups, and county summer youth programs.

Adults participate in community organizations - Lions Club, Sherman County Historical Society/Museum, OSU Extension, Sherman County Cattlemen, Farm Bureau, Oregon Wheat Growers League, Sherman County Athletic Foundation, 4-H leadership, Sherman High School Booster Club and informal group activities.

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Demographics

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Climate

Situated on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, Sherman County features a hybrid climate, part Mediterranean and part Intermountain Region, meaning four distinct seasons and low annual precipitation. The Columbia Gorge, however, serves as a natural conduit for normal eastward migration of ocean-conditioned air masses from the Pacific. Much of the time these air masses tend to substantially modify extreme temperatures of both summer and winter. These strong marine influences are also reflected in the occurrence of precipitation more than half of which falls from November through February.

Temperature and Precipitation Sherman County, Oregon
Sherman Experiment Station, Moro
Elevation 1,858 Feet

Temperature in Fahrenheit

Month Ave. Daily Max. Ave. Daily Min. Ave.Daily
January 40 19 30
February 44 20 32
March 52 32 41
April 59 40 50
May 66 44 55
June 74 50 62
July 82 58 70
August 82 57 70
September 75 45 60
October 62 33 48
November 47 27 37
December 37 33 35
Average 60 38 49
Extreme 106 -16  
Total      

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Precipitation in inches

Month Average Ave Days w/.10 or more Ave. Snowfall
January 1.41 4 6.0
February 1.20 3 2.7
March 1.14 3 1.2
April 0.90 2 0.2
May 0.94 2 0
June 0.58 1 0
July 0.30 0 0
August 0.23 1 0
September 0.51 1 0
October 0.93 2 0.2
November 1.69 5 2.5
December 1.28 5 6.2
Total 11.12 29 18.9

* Temperature & Precipitation records 1982-2003 - Snow fall data 1961-1990

As a result of the marine air influence through the Columbia Gorge, rarely do abnormally hot or abnormally cool spells persist for more than a few days at a time.

Occasionally, fairly heavy snow results when cold polar air masses push down from Canada and mix with the much warmer and relatively moist marine air. While this resulted in a snow depth of 3-5 feet during the winter of 1884-1885, the average snowfall for the last 20 years is only 19 inches total per year. The 74 years previous to that averaged 22 inches. These totals represent the annual total that falls, not the accumulated depths. The snow typically falls to depths of 1-4 inches, and usually lasts only for a few days before warmer temperatures or rains melt it away. On an average, 27 days per year have at least one inch of snow on the ground. Most precipitation, even in the winter is in the form of rain.

Thunderstorms may occur about 10 times per year and mostly in June.

Average relative humidity at mid-afternoon is about 48%. Humidity is usually higher at night and averages about 70% at dawn. Sunny skies are the rule for about 82% of the summer days and 30% in the winter.

During dry years, dust storms may be common, especially in the northeast part of the county, but adoption of conservation tillage practices have reduced these except during the driest years or a succession of dry years.

Winds vary around the county with the north and northeast portions of the county subjected to higher wind conditions, again influenced by the proximity of the Columbia Gorge and the pressure variations between the high desert to the east and the milder Willamette Valley. Winds are predominantly from the west and much less sustained in the southern portion of the county.

~ Sandy Macnab, ShermanCounty Extension, Oregon State University

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