National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Pendleton Station Profile


Pendleton (estimated 2016 population 16,781) is located in the Umatilla River Valley that cuts through the rolling dry farmland of the eastern Columbia Basin of northeastern Oregon. It was founded on the Umatilla River in 1864 on a site purchased for a span (pair) of horses. A toll bridge across the Umatilla River at the town site formed an important link in the westward migration via the Oregon Trail. The town was named for a United States Senator from Ohio, George Hunt Pendleton, the Vice Presidential candidate with McClellan against Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Mr. Pendleton favored agriculture and became noted as the "father" of the Civil Service System.

Agriculture, light manufacturing and tourism activities form the principal industries in and around Pendleton. The area's main crops are wheat, hay and 30% of the world’s commercial green peas. Dry land farming is practiced in the Pendleton area, but considerable acreage of former desert land to the west of town has been brought under irrigation by pumping water mainly from the nearby Columbia River. Ranching, forestry, and RV manufacturing are other major industries in the area. The Pendleton Woolen Mills, famous for wool blankets of Indian design, was founded in the early 1900's and continues to be one of the chief industries and tourist attractions along with Wildhorse Casino and RV Resort.

CLIMATE: The area around Pendleton is semi-arid, with very warm and dry summers and cool, moist winters. Average July highs are near 90 with overnight lows around 55. January's average highs and lows are in the low 40s and mid 20s. Temperatures have ranged from a high of 119 (all time Oregon record high 1898) to a low of -28 degrees during the period of record beginning in 1888. The growing season averages 153 days. Extremely cold temperatures are infrequent, with the temperature dropping below zero in only 1 out of 3 years. 

Much of the moisture from Pacific storms falls over and west of the Cascade Mountains, with only an average of 12.2 inches of precipitation falling at the Weather Forecast Office (WFO). Heavier amounts of 30 to 70 inches fall in the nearby Blue Mountains, with lesser amounts west toward the central Columbia Basin. On average, over 80 percent of yearly precipitation falls between October and May. Pendleton snowfall averages about 17 inches. Periods of extended snow cover are usually broken by Chinook winds, which bring rapid melt and runoff of snow cover.

There are over 100 days each year on average with clear skies. Extended periods of fog and low clouds are common in the winter with an average of 30 days of dense fog mainly between November and February.

The land slopes upward very gradually from the desert-like Columbia Basin to the Blue Mountains to the southeast with an elevation of 4,000 to 7,000 feet. The City Center of Pendleton is at an elevation of 1000 feet above sea level, while the WFO at the airport sits at 1,514 feet.

TAXES: Oregon has no sales tax, but offsets this with a state personal income tax topping at 9.9%, but often about half of one's Federal. Real estate property taxes in 2013 ranged up to $19.82 per $1000 valuation.

OTHER SERVICES: While Pendleton has no local television stations, the local cable operator offers over 150 channels plus 50 digital music channels. All major networks are carried, including stations from Portland and Tri-Cities in Washington. There are several internet and cell phone service providers.

Water quality is very good and comes from springs and wells. One new hospital serves the community and surrounding area. Pendleton is also the County Seat and many Oregon State services are available here. Two 18-hole golf courses are within 5 miles of Pendleton. Other recreational opportunities include a family aquatic center, a river walk, skate park, fishing, and nearby hunting and skiing. An arts center, historical center, children's museum, symphony, and tribal institute are some of the cultural highlights.

EDUCATION: Pendleton's public school system includes 4 neighborhood elementary schools, a middle school and high school, and a regional community college. There are also 3 parochial schools.

HOUSING: Rental units are in the $400 to $700 range. New home prices are around $120-160 per square foot. Previously built homes range between $80 and $120 per square foot.

STATION LOCATION: The National Weather Service Office is located on the western portion of the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport complex, which is about 3.5 miles west of the city center. The airport is home to the Pendleton UAS Range, encompassing over 14,000 square miles of airspace. This location offers a splendid view of the community and surrounding area.

STATION PROGRAM: The positions at the National Weather Service in Pendleton include the Meteorologist in Charge (MIC), Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM), Science and Operations Officer (SOO), Observation Program Leader (OPL), Electronic Systems Analyst (ESA), two electronic technicians (ET), an Information Tech Officer (ITO), and an Administrative Assistant (ASA), seven general forecasters, five senior forecasters, a service hydrologist (SH), two Hydrometeorological Technicians (HMT), one Intern (MI), and seasonal temporary staff students.

The forecast area covers Northeast Oregon from the Idaho state line west to the Cascades and south into Central Oregon. On the Washington side, we are responsible for most of southern Washington west to the Cascades. The programs include digital text and graphic forecasts, hazardous weather warnings, aviation forecasts, fire weather forecasting, dispersion outlook, short term forecasts and public service for the entire area.

STATION HISTORY: Weather reports were first recorded in downtown Pendleton in February 1866. Various downtown locations were the site for basic weather observations from November 1889 to April 1926. The U.S. Forest Service took over weather observations at the downtown Post Office location from July 1926 to June 1930. A member of the public again assumed these responsibilities from July 1930 to June 1935.

Weather observations began at the Pendleton Airport in April of 1935. We were located at the second floor of the Airport Terminal building from October 1960 through May 3, 1995.

The Weather Service Modernized and Restructured office, located 0.75 miles west of the airport terminal, was occupied May 4, 1995.

For additional information contact us on our administrative line (541)276-7832.