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Storms Boost Snowpack But Levels Remain Below Average In Southern Oregon and Northern California

Image of car driving through snowy tree-lined road.
adrian via Unsplash
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Snowstorms moving through Southern Oregon and Northern California counties boosted the region’s snowpack, but have yet to return them to normal levels.

Southern Oregon’s snowpack increased by 30% in the last week, according to the National Weather Service. The Rogue and Umpqua Basins are now at 88% of normal for snowpack. California’s western Siskiyou county is lower, at 70% of normal.

Despite the accumulating snowpack in the mountains, the region’s water year, a measurement of precipitation since the beginning of October, also remains below average.

“We had such a dry October and November we got off to a bad start for our water year,” says Misty Firmin, a meteorologist with Medford’s National Weather Service, “For Medford proper we’re only at 56% of normal.”

Much of southern Oregon and parts of California’s Siskiyou and Modoc Counties are listed as “abnormally dry”, the lowest ranking by the US Drought Monitor.

“We’re catching up but we had a pretty rough start, so I think that’s why we have an abnormally dry category,” Firmin says.

More snow in the mountains and rain at lower elevations is likely to boost those numbers in the coming weeks.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.