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Snowpack is average at start of spring

As is typical for the Cascades, the first official days of spring were met with cold, wet and windy weather that brought quite a bit of fresh snow to the mountains. Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort announced 44 inches of new snow last week as it prepared for a busy schedule of spring break activities and operations. The resort’s 117-inch base (as of Monday) ensures a quality late season with plenty of opportunity for skiing and snowboarding in T-shirts and sunglasses.

Among the long list of spring activities at Mt. Hood Meadows, a few to add to your calendar are (a full list and more details can be found at skihood.com):

n April 6, Full Sail Banked Slalom: Open to skiers and snowboarders (120 people maximum), this downhill slalom race takes place on a course of high banked curves and steep turns.

Across Oregon

(Snow Water Equivalent

percent of normal)

Hood/Sandy/Deschutes: 106%

John Day: 79%

Willamette: 105%

Rogue/Umpqua: 79%

Malheur: 55%

n April 7: Hood River Appreciation Day: This third-annual event runs all day in the Hood River Meadows parking area and will entail live music, raffles, food, beer and more.

n April 13: Ski To Defeat ALS: This event raises money for the ALS Association Oregon and Washington Chapter. Participants can do as many runs as they want and people with ALS are encouraged to participate.

n April 27: Sno-Kona Pond Skim: As much fun to watch as it is to participate in, this pond skim event is a crowd favorite at the resort’s base area. Skiers and snowboarders dress in elaborate costumes and launch themselves across a 90-foot-long ice-cold pond in hopes of winning a free trip for two to Hawaii.

In addition to pleasing mountain enthusiasts, last week’s storms added valuable inches to the snowpack, which feeds river, streams and reservoirs used for summer irrigation throughout the valley. The National Resource Conservation Service tracks snowpacks across the region, including two sites in Hood River County — one at 5,370 feet on Mount Hood and one at 4,410 feet on Red Hill. The Mount Hood test site is currently 92 percent of average, while the Red Hill site is 94 percent of average. The basin-wide percent is 106 percent of average and includes eight test sites in the Hood, Sandy and lower Deschutes basins.

Across the state, the Hood and the Willamette basins are the only two at or above average this year. Test areas in southern Oregon are far below average, with the Malheur and Owyee areas at 55 and 63 percent of average.

In the greater Columbia Basin, snowpacks are generally at or slightly below average for this time of year. That means Columbia River flow this spring and early summer should stay within the average range, in contrast to recent years that saw unusually high flow last through mid-July due to cold spring temperatures and above average snowpacks stretching from Canada to western Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

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