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  • WEATHER

    Crater Lake breaks snowfall record for December

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  • CRATER LAKE — Crater Lake National Park broke a 67-year record for December snowfall this month, with close to 197 inches recorded.
    According to the National Weather Service, 196.7 inches of snow have fallen at the park this month, breaking the previous record of 196 inches set in December 1948, when Harry S. Truman was president and Alaska and Hawaii had not yet been granted statehood.
    And this year, it came with perks.
    "We almost got the best of everything with this," said meteorologist Ryan Sandler. "We got a good buildup of snowpack, a decent amount of heavy rain at the low elevations for the month, yet we didn't really see much flooding.
    "It really worked out almost perfect for us as far as trying to break the drought."
    The park currently boasts about 100 inches of snowpack. The readings are taken in an area near the park's visitor center.
    The record was last threatened in December 1996, when 195 inches of snow fell. In January 1997, flooding plagued the region, but Sandler said he doesn't expect that to happen this time around.
    "The big difference was it was colder this month, and a lot of snow fell at lower elevations," he said. "And we had a drought, so the soil was dry. That helped."
    A long-term forecast predicts southwest Oregon will see close to average snowfall and precipitation in January, with a slightly wetter-than-normal period through March.
    "That's a big difference for fire season in the mountains," Sandler said.
    The park's west and south entrances off Highway 62 remain open, as does the highway to park headquarters, and the route from park headquarters to Rim Village, according to the park's website. The north entrance, the west and east rim drives, and Pinnacles Road are closed for the winter.
    Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.
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