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When it (finally) rains, it pours

It's been an overly dry winter, but it was an absolutely wet Wednesday.

Wednesday saw the most single-day rain in the Rogue Valley since Dec. 4, 2012, said Chuck Glaser, data analyst for the National Weather Service in Medford.

And more rain fell than on any other Feb. 12 on record in Medford's weather history, he said.

At 4:30 p.m., about 1.05 inches of rain was recorded at the Medford airport, breaking the previous Feb. 12 rainfall record of 1.02 inches, set in 1975.

On Dec. 4, 2012, Medford was pounded with 1.2 inches of precipitation, Glaser said.

The all-time record rainfall for a single day in Medford is 3.3 inches, set on Dec. 2, 1962, he said.

Weather data has been consistently recorded in Medford since March 1911, he said.

"It's the first time for a while that we've had something this good, this moist," Glaser said.

"It will last certainly through the weekend and we'll probably see a couple more systems next week," Glaser said. "That's when it will start to get a little cooler and get a chance for some mountain snow."

There was no snow, only rain, falling on Mount Ashland Wednesday and only a slight chance of snow forecast there for overnight, according to the weather service.

Mt. Ashland Ski Area General Manager Kim Clark said the rain had a detrimental impact on the modest base layer covering the ski slopes.

"We have bare spots showing again already, so it has done some damage. It's eating away what little base we have," he said.

Clark said the ski area needs at least 18 inches of new snow on top of its 10-inch base layer before it can open runs, but that's just a "guesstimate," he said.

Without Wednesday's rain, he said, the ski area was one decent snowstorm away from a partial opening.

The latest the ski area has ever opened was Feb. 17, in 1977.

"At least we have some moisture coming down that will hopefully restock the reservoirs and give the trees a drink — but is it doing any good for Mt. Ashland? Not at this point," he said.

The recent wet conditions are a result of the Pineapple Express storm system moving through the region from the North Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, Glaser said.

Although flood watch advisories have been issued for areas in Josephine County and near the Oregon Coast, Glaser doesn't expect Jackson County streams to swell enough to create similar circumstances.

"They're going to rise a bit, but the streams down here probably won't (flood) because they started off so low."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.