EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s snowpack — the amount of snow held by the mountains — was below normal in early February, but a round of winter storms now has it above normal for much of the state, including the Willamette River Basin.
The Register-Guard reports a dramatic turnaround in weather, from warm and dry to cold and snowy, boosted the snowpack in the past month.
Scott Oviatt, Oregon snow survey supervisor for Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the storms were “very beneficial to the state.”
The Willamette River Basin’s snowpack was at 110 percent of normal for this time of year on Monday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
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On Feb. 8, the Willamette snowpack was 58 percent of normal. More snow now means more water this summer, when the snow melts.
Continued snow in the high country this spring will improve the snowpack even more. A flip back to warm and dry will put a dent in the naturally stored water.
“We are optimistic but hedging our bets,” Oviatt said.
The robust snowpack so far has left ski area managers near Eugene elated.
Last winter, Willamette Pass ski area was only open for a couple of days. This year, the ski area 69 miles southeast of Eugene off Highway 58 has been open since late December and will remain open three weeks into April.
“It’s just a fantastic winter right now,” said Willamette Pass owner Tim Wiper.
Hoodoo Ski Area, 88 miles northeast of Eugene off Highway 20, opened in mid-December and also will be open deep into next month, said Hoodoo spokesman Leif Williams.
“We can’t complain,” he said, “that’s for sure.”