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What Is the Brookings Effect?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The Brookings Effect is an intriguing meteorological effect which causes the climate around Brookings, Oregon, to remain temperate almost year-round. In the winter, when the rest of Oregon is cold and wet, Brookings can experience warm, sunny days which would seem more appropriate in the summer months. The Brookings Effect creates the weather conditions which lead Oregonians to refer to the area as the Banana Belt; locals also sometimes call the Brookings Effect the Chetco Effect, naming it after a major river in the area.

Several factors come together to create the Brookings Effect. The first is the geology of the region; Southern Oregon has a mountain range which runs through the area, with Brookings and its surroundings on the lee of the mountains. This means that Brookings is ideally placed to benefit from flows of warm, dry air which develop on the leeward side of the mountains. These flows of warm air, known as Chinook winds, form when air gets pushed down as it crosses a mountain, warming up in the process.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Brookings is also ideally positioned to take advantage of meteorological conditions in the area. In the summer, high pressure ridges form in the area, causing warm air from the inland valleys of California to flow into the Brookings region. The warm breezes also push cooler offshore breezes away, promoting clear skies and warm weather.

Thanks to the Brookings Effect, Southern Oregon is a popular spot. The coastlines of the Pacific Northwest are infamous for being cool and often cloudy or foggy, but Brookings is largely exempt from this phenomenon. Visitors to the Banana Belt often deliberately select the region so that they can enjoy the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest while also benefiting from temperate weather, with residents enjoying the ability to cultivate a wide range of crops and flowers along with the pleasant year-round weather.

Several other regions of the world have climate phenomena similar to the Brookings Effect, created by virtue of landscape, meteorology, and geology. These regions often become famous resort and vacation destinations, as it's hard to keep a secret about pleasant year-round weather. However, the weather in such regions can also turn against the residents, especially in the summer, when temperatures may become uncomfortably or even dangerously hot.

Why is Brookings Oregon called the Banana Belt of Oregon?

Some people have described Brookings as the "banana belt of Oregon" because of its climate. The term "banana belt" simply refers to any geographic area that has warmer temperatures than its surrounding region. Some other examples of banana belts throughout North America are:

  • Iron Mountain in Michigan, USA 
  • Arkansaw River Valley in Colorado, USA 
  • The Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada 
  • La Conchita in California, USA 
  • Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, Canada 
  • Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada 

In the case of Brookings, however, it would be more precise to say that it simply has milder temperatures overall, as its summers can actually be cooler than the rest of the surrounding region. Nearby Gold Beach is another community that also shares this weather phenomenon.

Brookings Oregon Weather Year Round

The weather in Brookings does vary throughout the year, but its temperatures stay much more consistent than the rest of Oregon. The state of Oregon as a whole has temperatures that fall in an overall range of the mid-30s to the mid-80s, while Brookings usually stays between the low-40s and the high-60s. This makes for milder summers and winters, which can be very pleasant for those who dislike the extreme weather that often occurs in the northernmost and southernmost states of the USA.

The Brookings effect is especially striking in its effect on the summer temperatures in the city. While summers in both Eugene (in the middle of Oregon) and Portland (in the north of Oregon) can reach into the 80s, from June to August in Brookings you won't see temperatures above the high-60s. In the winter, other areas of Oregon can get as low as the mid-30s while Brookings doesn't get below the low-40s.

In terms of rain, Brookings has a relatively high number of inches per year while also having relatively few days of rainfall for Oregon. Compared to the US average, however, Brookings gets a great deal of rain (about 84 inches per year). Most of its rain, like the rest of Oregon, is in the colder months from November to March.

Does It Snow in Brookings? 

It does snow in Brookings, Oregon, but because of its relatively mild winters, it doesn't get as much snowfall as the rest of Oregon. Snowfall doesn't occur anywhere unless temperatures are below freezing and moisture in the air is minimal, and Brookings usually has temperatures that stay in the 40s during the winter months.

A typical amount of snowfall in Brookings each year is just about 1 inch, whereas in Eugene the snowfall is about 2 inches per year. Further north, Portland has an average annual snowfall of about 3 inches.

What Is the Most Popular Time of Year to Visit Brookings? 

Brookings gets the most tourist activity in the summers. The most popular month is August. This is probably due to the fact that the surrounding areas (and most areas of the United States) have summers that are uncomfortably hot for many people, while Brookings typically has moderately cool summers in the mid-60s.

Rain is also less frequent in Oregon in the summers, so outside activities are easier for those traveling to Brookings in the summertime. This is convenient, as many of the most popular attractions to tourists in the Brookings area are outdoors, such as the scenic beaches, state parks and trails.

Average Temperature in Brookings Oregon 

The average temperature in Brookings does move throughout the year despite the fact that it's a banana belt that is more consistent.

Spring and Summer 

In the Spring months, the average high temperature in Brookings is about 60 degrees, while its average low is more like 44 degrees. The summer is a bit warmer, but not by much, with an average high of 67 degrees and an average low of approximately 51 degrees. This makes for slightly chilly summers that might actually require a light jacket from time to time.

Fall and Winter 

In the fall months, from September through November, the average high in Brookings is 63 degrees, and the average low is 47 degrees. In the colder months of the winter season, Brookings experiences an average high temperature of about 55 degrees, while the average low is 42 degrees. Of course, as these are only averages, there are times when Brookings gets cold enough to watch out for ice and snow on the roads, but those times are fewer and further in-between than other parts of the state of Oregon.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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