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Early C.O. snowpack levels well below average

That could affect rivers and reservoirs in the summer

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon's snowpack levels are well below average for this early-season time of year, prompting some concern, though more snow is on the way at higher elevations in coming days.

The snowpack as of Friday was 38 percent of normal for this date for the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basin, according to automated SNOTEL telemetry reports.

The Oregon Water Resource Department says we may be playing 'catch up,' in regards to meeting normal snow averages. Records show the biggest snow months are December and January, which should guarantee potential snowstorms.

One main concern is not whether we will see more snow, but if we continue to have low snowpack levels, how will it affect the rivers and reservoirs during the summer?

"It'd be nice to see, instead of 38 percent today -- we'd like to see it well above average, so that if we do have a dry period, we can buffer some of that dry period and still remain at average or above," Oregon Water Resources Department Regional Manager Kyle Gorman said Friday.

"It's always nice to have that water supply that we can look for in the summer, when our numbers (earlier) are around 100 percent," Gorman said

As Bend city councilors prepared to vote to adopt a community Climate Action Plan Wednesday night, Mt. Bachelor President/General Manager John McLeod was among the speakers urging its passage.

He cited a consensus of many scientists that unless significant steps are taken soon, climate change could reduce the snowpack 40 to 70 percent by the year 2050.

In the near-term, meanwhile, Mt. Bachelor is expected to see more snow by Sunday, with 9 inches anticipated to fall, helping build the early-season base that has been only about a foot in recent days.

One skier shared his experience of dealing with the low snowpack levels on the mountain.

"It's honestly prime for hitting rails, but it's definitely not the best for cruises and runs," he said. "You've got to be cautious for low snowpacks for sure."

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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