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Winter keeps providing warm-wet-cold contrasts

Winter slipped back into the Rogue Valley Thursday, ending a 10-day spell of mild, sunny afternoons and frosty, starry nights.

Forecasters say the next week will feel more like February than April. A series of storms seems to be heading for Southern Oregon over the next week, and snow levels could drop as low as 3,000 feet on Saturday night.

midday Thursday, Medford had received .33 inches of rain, the first measurable precipitation since Feb. 1. Mount Ashland had — inches of new snow, but less than an inch had fallen at Crater Lake National Park. A mix of rain and snow was falling at Lake of the Woods.

Weekend storms could bring as much as a foot of new snow to the mountains, said Roger Gerig of the National Weather Service station in Medford.

We should have pretty good rain in Medford Saturday and into Saturday night, Gerig said.

With six weeks of winter remaining, the season has been a study in contrasts. Except for the Rogue Basin, most of Oregon has far-below-average rainfall and snowpack.

A wet December here, with nearly 7 inches of rain, pushed rainfall totals for the season above average, despite a dry October and November. Warmer-than-normal temperatures in January brought rain instead of snow in the mountains below 6,000 feet, washing away much of the snowpack.

Mount Ashland has some of the deepest snow in Oregon ' a gift from December storms that pounded California but stalled at the Siskiyou Mountains.

At Crater Lake, just beyond the reach of those storms, the snowpack (56 inches) is barely half the average (100 inches) for mid-February.

Thursday's showers pushed Medford's total precipitation for February to .70 inches, just .26 inches below the normal average total for the month. Total precipitation for the rainy season stood at 14.49 inches, about 2.8 inches above normal.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail