Central Oregon’s snowpack is still well below average despite recent storms in February and March, forecasters said.
The low snowfall is due to a lack of precipitation on cold days, the Bulletin reported.
As of Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Pendleton office has recorded 4.3 inches (11 centimeters) of snow in Bend since Oct. 1.
It’s less than a fifth of what the city is used to getting and it’s the sixth-lowest snow total in Bend since 1901,” said John Peck, a forecaster with the weather service.
“It just never got cold enough to generate much snowfall,” Peck said.
Bend’s winter dry spell broke on Feb. 11 when snowfall was recorded in Bend. It was followed by six weeks of precipitation.
“March was actually a pretty wet month,” said Marilyn Lohmann, a hydrologist at the weather service’s Pendleton office.
The late snow was good news for Mount Bachelor ski area, which is finishing up its busiest March to date despite below-average snow totals overall, said Drew Jackson, director of marketing for the ski area.
Areas with higher elevation in central Oregon such as the east Cascades and the Upper Descutes-Crooked River Basin — which had snowpack that bottomed out at 37 percent of normal in early February — saw more snowfall, but forecasters said it’s still below average.
With low levels of snowpack statewide, Julie Koeberle, a snow hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said it would probably be best to plan for a dry year.
So far, the snowpack shortage has not had any effect on central Oregon’s large reservoirs, particularly those in the western part of the region.
The Wickiup Reservoir was nearly full as of Thursday and while the Crane Prairie Reservoir was filled at 90 percent capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.