Snowpack, once flush, shrinking

Jan 21, 2013

Bend Bulletin

Snowpack, once flush, shrinking

There's plenty of time for more storms in Central Oregon, hydrologist says

By Dylan J. Darling

Sunny days in Central Oregon are shrinking the mountain snowpack.

“It's just that it has been dry," said Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Portland.

A slew of snowstorms at the end of December pushed snowpack numbers for the Deschutes/Crooked River Basin, mainly in the east Cascades, to above normal for the time of year, she said. They were at 109 percent of normal on Jan. 1. The snowfall stopped since and with each clear day the percentage drops.

Automated snow measuring sites for the NRCS showed the basin was down to 92 percent of normal as of Thursday.

The spring thaw is still months away and more snowstorms could hit Central Oregon this winter, so it's not time to worry about water yet, Koeberle said.

“It's still early in the season and there is still time for improvement," she said.

And the snowpack can improve quickly, as last month showed.

In mid-December the Deschutes/Crooked River Basin snowpack measured 62 percent of normal for the time of year, when compared to the 30-year average. In came snowstorms for the latter part of the month and the snowpack was boosted to above normal.

The string of sunny days in Bend looks to continue this weekend and into early next week, according to the National Weather Service. Snow could make a return to Central Oregon high country Tuesday night, when there is a slight chance of rain in town and the snow level is expected to be 4,600 feet.

“It is all just completely dry until then," said Josh Smith, meteorologist with the weather service in Pendleton.

A couple of inches of snow should drop on the mountains, he said, mostly on Wednesday. The snow level should drop and there is a chance of snow in Bend on Wednesday night.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,

ddarling@bendbulletin.com

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