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Grazing Goats Forecast Weather in Roseburg

In the early 1970s, a roving herd of Angora goats grazed along the slopes of 1,200-foot Mount Nebo, in Roseburg, Ore., blissfully unaware they had become four-footed weather forecasters.

Local pilots and women hanging out laundry consulted the goats’ position as weather indicators. Goats high up the mountain meant dry or fair weather, grazing on the lower slopes meant rain.

Radio station KRSB’s weatherman, Tom Warden, created his own jargon.  He used “scattered goats” for sunny conditions, or “low goat pressure” for stormy weather. During one two-week period the goats were right 90 percent of the time compared to 65 percent for the official weather service. They were featured worldwide on television and in magazines and newspapers.

The goats presented a hazard by descending to Interstate 5 at the foot of Mount Nebo to graze on the freeway median strip. The danger to traffic and complaints of damaged lawns and gardens resulted in formation of a goat committee to decide their fate. The committee put 10 up for adoption and sentenced 13 to a life of ease on an 80-acre Elkhead ranch near Roseburg.

The weather goats live on today on the Mount Nebo Facebook page.

"Mount Nebo goats might have foretold his future residency." NR today. Web. 22 Feb. 2015; "User:Dravecky/Sandbox/Weather Goats." Wikipedia. 28 May 2009. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Dravecky/Sandbox/Weather_Goats;  "Mount Nebo goats put up for adoption." The Register Guard 8 Aug. 1984 [Eugene, Ore.] : 9B. Web. 22 Feb. 2015; Remarks to Gov. Bob Straub Memorial Service, Dec.18, 2002: 002http://archivedwebsites.sos.state.or.us/Governor_Kitzhaber_2003/governor/speeches/s021218.htm.

Emily Blakely has published poetry and prose, and frequently displayed framed works at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center as well as restaurants and libraries in the area. Researching local history has become one of her favorite pastimes.