Cascades, Mt. Bachelor Snow packs well below average, could mean summer water problems


(Update: Added video commentary from Mt.Bachelor Skiers and Riders, Resort Statement, Deschutes Basin Water Pipe, Deschutes National Forest Public Affairs Officer)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The effects of another mild winter loomed Monday as it rained on Mt. Bachelor.

Eric Decker, who has been skiing at Mt. Bachelor for the past six years, told NewsChannel 21 on Monday, “I hope we’ll be skiing by the end of May, but we’ll see.”

Snowboarder Adam O’Sullivan added: “Who knows (if we’ll be on Memorial Day weekend)? It’s going to be a warm week; we’ll see what’s left.”

As the elevators stopped on Monday, the resort’s base was 81 inches, compared with 110 inches on this day a year ago. The mountain enters April 2021 with a base of 109 inches.

But this year looks unlikely, with temperatures expected to hit the 50s next week.

“I wanted it to be 10 degrees cooler, 20 degrees cooler, but that’s not the case,” Decker said. “Welcome to climate change.”

Mt. Bachelor spokesman Dustin Fletcher said that, as with last season, the goal remains to remain open until the day before Memorial Day.

In a statement, Fletcher said: “Our operations team has seen this situation years ago and is ready to move/harvest existing snow to provide the best possible skiing and snowboarding for as long as possible. experience.”

He added that the Skyliner will be out of service this season, the Sunrise Gondola will replace it on the spring schedule, while the Cloud Chaser and Northwest Gondolas will run daily until May 1stone.

Mt. Bachelor sells daily lift tickets through May 29, as well as unlimited spring passes from March 26 to May 29.

But lack of snow has other problems, especially in irrigated areas.

“Our snow cover is 71 percent of the average,” Deschutes Basin Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said.

Monday’s automated SNOTEL measurements showed that the snow water equivalent in the upper Deschutes River basin was close to 30 percent of normal, and snowpack was 17 percent below normal.

This time last year, Giffen said we had above-average snowpack, but a dry spring caused irrigation districts to close in midsummer, and that could happen again.

“Our irrigation water will be very tight this summer,” Giffen said.

Of course, dry conditions lead to a high fire hazard.

“We’re looking at an increased risk of wildfires in central Oregon starting in May and June,” said Jaimie Olle, a public affairs specialist at the Deschutes National Forest.

Still, some skiers are optimistic.

Skier Missie Eggert said: “Next season is a new year and next year could be great.”

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