Oregon Snowpack At Miserable Lows As State Stares Climate Change ‘Right In The Eye’

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s mountain snowpack, vital for farms, fish and ski resorts, is in the midst of another miserable year, posting record low depths despite normal precipitation.

The reason is persistent warm weather, which is turning into the new normal as the climate heats up.

“We are really kind of staring climate change right in the eye right now,” said Kathie Dello, associated director of the Oregon Climate Change Institute at Oregon State University.

While there will still be plentiful snowpacks in some years, overall the trend is for them to decline as average temperatures continue to rise, she said.

“Last year we had a bad fire season, and that is in part due to the lack of snow,” which left the ground bare, and prone to dry out, she added.

Snow that builds up in the mountains serves as a natural reservoir, feeding streams and replenishing groundwater as it melts.

Natural Resources Conservation Service hydrologist Julie Koeberle says there is time for things to improve, but expectations are low. Long-range forecasts call for warm weather, with no clear indication whether it will be wetter or drier than normal. Meanwhile, some snow measurement sites are their lowest since the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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