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Rob DeHarpport’s outdoor report: Snow skiers and snowmobilers rejoice!

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By ROB DEHARPPORT/For The Herald — Better late than never, and as predicted, the big snowstorm has arrived, with more on the way. The anticipated La Nina weather is here, bringing much needed snowpack to the Cascades and Sierra mountains and beyond.

Along with those who depend on winter recreation: farm irrigators, folks with parched wells, and our lakes and streams, we all certainly needed this welcome change in the weather.  It appears that after an early November weather tease that gave us a good dose of rain and a light coating of snow in the mountains, we’re now getting the real deal. It was just that- a tease of what was in the future. A full blown winter has finally arrived in the Cascades.

Currently, here near Crescent Lake, we have anywhere from 20 to 24 inches of fresh powder. The official Snotel snow guage at Crescent Lake, elevation 4800′, reported 20″ at noon today. Sunday December 12th.

Here is what was predicted on Friday before the storm:

According to many weather forecasts, including Ryanweather.com and NOAA, Crescent Lake, Oregon, that I follow, a Winter Storm Watch has gone into effect from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon. Heavy snow possible. New snow accumulations of 12- 24″. Winds could gust 40 to 60 mph across the passes and higher elevations at times. Possible blizzard and whiteout conditions with high winds. There exists the possibility of being stuck behind or between fallen trees. Remember our “snowmageddon” a couple of years ago? Thankfully, we didn’t experience the 40-60 mph winds that were predicted. However, the snow forecast was pretty much spot on!

Rod DeHarpport photo

Speaking of predictions. More snow is predicted through the next week with the snow level expected to drop to 1500-2000 feet elevation.

Travel will continue to be very difficult and hazardous in the Highway 58 corridor and beyond. Snow levels will be around 3000′ elevation. This low-pressure system will be followed by another impacting system Monday into Tuesday. A winter weather advisory extends into Monday evening. Temperatures in the Cascades are not expected to be above freezing. This means that a snow-covered Highway 58 will be very slick and dangerous. According to RyanWeather.com, we may receive up to 12-20″ of the white powder tonight through 10:00 Monday.

Long term predictions vary. However, many that I have read predict more snow though late December as well as longer term La Nina weather bringing much needed snow and rain to the Pacific Northwest through March.

Rob DeHarpport photo

All that being said, be prepared at home and, if you must travel, avoid travel in storm conditions. Be sure to have all the necessary provisions, both at home in case of power outages, and in your vehicles if you must travel. We experienced a power outage here at Crescent Lake from about 4:30 to 7:30 this morning followed later in the morning with flickering lights and intermittent power. Thankfully, Midstate Electric Cooperative crews, who braved the weather in those wee morning hours, were able to restore power quickly to most homes in the area.  Kudos to those crews as well as our ODOT crews who work to keep our Highway as safe as possible. Travelers should carry tire chains, flashlights, blankets, food, water, and medications as you never know when you could become stranded in these conditions.

Already, in the last 24 to 48 hours, numerous cars have spun out on Highway 58. Several tractor trailer freight trucks have been reportedly Jack-knifed and blocking the highway. The tow yard at Dowell Towing Company’s Crescent Lake station is filling quickly with wrecked vehicles.  This year fines have increased to $800 for travelers and truckers failing to heed chain and traction tire requirements. Spinning out into the ditch or causing a serious crash will surely get those folks a big fat fine.

The best place to be in these predicted weather conditions is home, safe and warm. No matter how safe you drive, you never know what sort of mess “the other guy” can place you in. There will be plenty of time and opportunities to travel “up the hill” to enjoy the snow and the winter recreational fun.

Winter recreation will soon be fully open to skiers, snowmobilers and everyone who just enjoys a day of fun in the snow. Willamette Pass Ski Area, Mount Bachelor and all of the resort owners and operators can breathe a huge sigh of relief and smile as they all welcome this winter and the long-awaited guests and patrons. Start making your winter and holiday plans because it appears this glorious snow is here to stay. Book a cabin or come up “the hill” for lunch or dinner at Manley’s or Odell Lake Resort. Or just drive up and make a day of it with the kids frolicking, building a snowman, and enjoying the Winter Wonderland.

Let’s stay safe and be thankful that the winter weather has arrived! Cheers!

Rob DeHarpport, former mayor of Westfir, moved to the Crescent Lake community in 2015 shortly after retiring from a 31-year career in the trucking industry.

Rob DeHarpport photo

 

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