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Drought persists through December rain

Another snowless Christmas has come and gone for Douglas County.

In fact, Roseburg hasn’t had a white Christmas in more than a decade, according to National Weather Service data.

Instead of snow, rainfall has increased in recent weeks compared to earlier this fall. But it hasn’t been enough to lift the county out of a drought dating back to late this spring.

As of Dec. 18, nearly 84 percent of the county was in the “extreme” drought category, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The same proportion of the county has been in that drought category since early September. The remaining 16 percent of the county is in the “severe” drought category.

In November, Roseburg had 3.58 inches of rain, with the majority of it falling in the last four days of the month, according to airport weather data. Through Dec. 22, 2.97 inches of rain have fallen in Roseburg this month. Between 1980 and 2010, more than 6 inches of rain fell in the month of December on average in Roseburg.

The emergency drought declaration for Douglas County issued by Gov. Kate Brown on June 14, which gives county officials greater water management flexibility, expires at the end of this month. Douglas was the first county west of the Cascades with the emergency declaration this spring. But drought conditions in the county are likely to persist past the end of the declaration.

“While recent rain events have been beneficial, precipitation over the past two weeks has still been below-normal across the state,” read the Water Conditions Report from the Oregon Water Resources Department on Dec. 17. “Most of western Oregon has been two to five inches below normal for this time of year.”

Snowpack across the state is 60 percent of normal due to a lack of storms and warmer than average temperatures, according to the report. Additionally, stream flows statewide are 50 percent of normal. In the Umpqua Basin, flows are as low as 20 percent of normal, the report said.

Sunday afternoon accident totals car

Alcohol appeared to be a contributing factor in a Sunday afternoon crash that sent two people to the hospital, according to police.

The crash occurred in front of Roseburg High School at approximately 1:41 p.m. It totaled a Honda Civic and damaged a Ford Explorer.

Roseburg police said 27-year-old Alan Patrick Brock of Roseburg was driving west in a Honda Civic on West Harvard Avenue when he lost control and hit the Ford Explorer driven by 49-year-old Tony Mackey of Roseburg.

Both were transported to CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg for non-life-threatening head and neck injuries, according to police.

Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

“The report indicates the driver of the Honda lost control and spun into oncoming traffic, striking the Ford Explorer,” said Sgt. Dennis Chrisenbery of the Roseburg Police Department.

The crash is still under investigation. Mackey was charged on suspicion of driving while uninsured.

Elite no longer a taxi company due to Uber requests

Elite Taxi has dropped the taxi portion of its business, instead choosing to focus on contract transportation, primarily for medical deliveries.

Owner Joseph Buonauro said the new model is simpler and won’t be in direct competition with Uber or other ride-hailing companies if and when they come to Roseburg.

“Everything we do is by contract. If you were to call us, we would direct you to Sunshine,” Buonauro said. “People wanted Uber to come to Roseburg. Uber’s going to come, there’s no stopping it. If you want Uber, call them.”

In August, the City of Roseburg passed an ordinance that laid out the rules for Uber and would allow it to operate, as well as Lyft and other ride-hailing services. As of this week, both companies have balked at the rules instituted by Roseburg city officials. Lyft opposes the separate background check, and Uber wants the city to be included in either Eugene or Medford’s service area.

City Council members said in November they would try again to convince Uber and Lyft to come to Roseburg.

Uber briefly provided service in town in February, but stopped offering rides after the city threatened to fine the company up to $1,500 a day for failing to follow the city’s then-existing ordinances.

“Nobody’s signing up for (Uber),” Buonauro said. “That’s the bottom line. I’m sad it had to come to what it did. It is something the city is going to miss because Sunshine by itself, before, wasn’t sufficient to handle the amount of traffic that was needed for taxis, and they are the only ones you can call right now.”

Buonauro bought Elite Taxi in 2011. The company has been handling contracts for medical deliveries for about five years.