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Flood risk abates; rain doesn't

Rain is expected on and off through Tuesday, but a lower snow level should reduce stream flows

Scattered showers fell across Southern Oregon Sunday night as rivers and streams continued to recede in the wake of Friday's flood.

Medford had received .53 inch of rain on New Year's Day through 4 p.m., considerably less than the previous day's .65 inch and the 2.08 inches that fell on Friday, when creeks rose to levels unseen since Jan. 1, 1997. For the last five days of December, Medford received 4.25 inches of rain, 46 percent more than the monthly average of 2.90 inches.

Forecasters expected colder temperatures after Sunday's storm to push snow levels as low as 3,500 feet overnight and around 4,500 feet today.

At 8:15 p.m. the Oregon Department of Transportation reported slush on Interstate 5 in both the northbound and southbound lanes, but chains were not required.

On Sexton Summit, north of Grants Pass, there was rain and bare pavement on the freeway. Highways near Diamond Lake were covered with packed snow while stretches of black ice were reported on Highway 62 at the Crater Lake National Park boundary.

— The storm roared into the coast with wind gusts as high as 78 mph at Cape Blanco, said Ken Sargeant, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Medford office.

Sustained wind up to 58 mph blew for about six hours, Sargeant said, and waves of 20 to 25 feet were reported along the Oregon Coast.

The high winds forced the Mount Ashland ski area to close or scale back operations for the third time in as many days. The ski area shut down all day Friday when blizzard conditions engulfed the Siskiyou Mountains and canceled night skiing on Saturday.

Ski area managers expected to reopen today, weather permitting. Weekend storms blanketed the mountain with more than a foot of new snow, and the snow depth had reached 50 inches at the lodge and 90 inches at the summit by Sunday.

Sargeant said heavy rain and snow showers in the mountains will continue today and gradually diminish by evening, but a new storm will bring more rain to Southern Oregon by Tuesday.

A spell of dry weather may occur Wednesday and Thursday. Sargeant said computer forecasting models suggest the jet stream, which has been parked over Southern Oregon and Northern California, will shift north, taking the rain and snow with it.

That should give these rivers some time to go down, he said.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail Flood risk abates; rain doesn't"bkettler@mailtribune.com.