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February dry, but snow pack still in good shape

Despite a dry February, the local mountain snow pack remains above normal, according to veteran U.S. Forest Service snow surveyor Steve Johnson.

The snow water content at the four snow survey sites in the Mount Ashland area at the end of February was 137 percent of average, he reported.

The snow water content reflects how much water is in the snow, an important indicator for how much water is being stored in the mountain snowbanks for summer stream flows and reservoir storage.

Moreover, the snow water content at the Siskiyou Summit, elevation 4,600 feet above sea level, was 19.7 inches, making it 372 percent of normal, he said.

"That's the highest snow water content we've measured there at the end of February since 1952," he said. "I'm surprised how much is there because we had a relatively dry month. And it's pretty high density snow."

The snow depth at the summit was 54 inches, reflecting a 318 percent of normal depth. It was also the second highest ever measured for the end of February. Since the agency began measuring snow at the site in 1935, the record was 55 inches in both 1969 and 1993.

February normally brings about 2.1 inches of rainfall to the Medford area but barely a half inch fell this year, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

The other three snow survey, all higher elevation, also had above normal water content and snow depth, albeit not as impressive as the Siskiyou Summit.

— Paul Fattig

More details: Saturday's Mail Tribune