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Outdoor (snow) report: As the wicked witch of the west said “I’m melting!!”

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A picture of the meadow across Crescent Creek from below my place on January 14th. As of today- nearly 1/2 of the nearly 4 feet of snow has gone down the creek. Rob DeHarpport photo
By ROB DEHARPPORT/ for The Herald  —  As January approaches its end, we’ve had quite the mix of weather. Thankfully, a nice fluffy blanket of snow arrived early this month. Skiers and ski resorts were overjoyed with the 4-5 feet of powder.
Same view as top photo but was taken January 4th.

Unfortunately, that wintery blast was followed by cold temperatures and freezing rain that impacted much of western Oregon. The damage is still being assessed. Thousands of homes were without power due to trees and limbs snapping along with the weight of the ice on power lines.

Emergency rooms were taxed with patients from “slip and fall” accidents. Roads were dangerous and many accidents resulted from these conditions. Travelers were stranded, some had to wait for hours to simply move along Interstate 5. In a three-day period, there were 7 fatalities due to crashes on Highway 97 between Chemult and LaPine.
Relief was expressed by many as the snow arrived. Not just the skiers and resorts, folks dependent upon spring runoff from the Cascades also breathed sighs of relieve as a long winter drought appeared to be avoided.
Here at Crescent Lake, we had a couple of early December snowstorms that dropped a foot of snow two separate times. By January 4th most of that snow had disappeared, leaving only 4 inches at the Crescent Lake Snotel snow gauge. At that time, many ski areas had not opened due to lack of snow.
It was looking bleak until the early January storms arrived. Ski resorts opened, the Oregon State Snowmobile Associations convention in LaPine cheered as there would be adequate snow for snowmobiling that took place last week.
 The Crescent Lake snow gauge peaked on January 14th with 45 inches on the ground. After that date, the powder began to compact and settle. Some rainfall helped to compact the snow into a firmer base. Water masters reported near normal or slightly above normal water forecasts in most areas of the state.
My driveway as of 1/27.

As I write this on January 27th, the snow depth at Crescent Lake has dropped to 26 inches. My driveway is

My driveway only 2 weeks ago! Rob DeHarpport photo

showing a spring like “bloom” of gravel where it’s been plowed and cleared with a snowblower. This “gravel bloom” normally happens in April. The forecast is calling for an atmospheric river of rain to hit the west coast. Snow levels are predicted to be at 6500′- 7000′ elevations.

Flood alerts have been issued to areas of southwestern Oregon and Northern California. Let’s hope that these forecasts aren’t 100% correct.
LaNina has definitely returned as predicted. We should also hope that she doesn’t overstay her visit. I’m thankful for the snow that finally arrived and that most of us survived the ice storms unscathed and in good health.
As much as we Oregonians anticipate and wish for sunny spring days, I believe now would be a great time for a few more folks to break into their snow dancing mode. We could certainly use more snow in the Cascades rather than the predicted rain. Begin dancing for more snow!
Rob DeHarpport was a long-term resident and former mayor of Westfir. Rob now lives in the Crescent Lake area and is The Herald’s reporter for the Outdoor Report. Rob DeHarpport photo

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