Central Oregon dry spell continues this week

Early 2014 may see more seasonal winter average

By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin


Published Jan 2, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Jan 2, 2014 at 06:08AM

Though the snow drought is expected to continue into next week, the new year may bring new hope for snow enthusiasts in Central Oregon.

“It’s looking like it will be pretty close to what we would normally see this time of year,” said Alan Polan, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Pendleton. “It’s not going to be too warm or too cold, and it’s not going to be too dry in terms of precipitation.”

The predictions are based on climatological models released in three-month segments by the National Weather Service. The High Desert’s weather for this month, February and March are expected to keep with seasonal norms of past years. Average rainfall and snowmelt in Central Oregon for the month of January, based on data taken at the Redmond Airport, is about 0.97 inches. Average snow accumulation for January is 4.1 inches, while February generally sees 3.2 inches and March generally gets 1.3 inches. Average snowfall numbers vary greatly throughout Central Oregon.

Thus far this winter, the area has seen higher-than-average temperatures combined with a dry spell that has left sno-parks and ski resorts like Mt. Bachelor hungry for snow. Hoodoo recently had to cancel its New Year’s celebrations because of low snow levels that have prevented the ski resort from opening.

In the more immediate 10-day forecast, Polan said a ridge of high pressure is expected to continue to slowly move above the High Desert, extending the dry spell. Polan said a weak disturbance may pass through the area Tuesday, and there’s a slight chance of rain at lower elevations and snow above 4,000 feet on Tuesday. But for the most part, Polan said the high pressure is likely to persist in the days ahead.

“It’s not looking very good for the next eight days, and that’s because of the high pressure,” Polan said. “January is starting out fairly dry.”

As for winter storms, Polan said it’s difficult to predict anything far in advance, but said the arctic blast that sent temperatures plummeting below zero in the High Desert this December is not expected to return this winter.

“Hopefully that was just a one-shot thing, and we got it out the way early in the season,” Polan said. “I don’t want to see that happen again.”

Polan said a long-term outlook at the first few months of the new year suggests the months of April and May could be cooler than average in the High Desert, but that prediction could change.

“It hints that Central Oregon might see below-normal temperatures for those months, but I wouldn’t jump on that bandwagon just yet,” Polan said. “Nothing is completely set.”

— Reporter; 541-383-0354, mkehoe@bendbulletin.com