Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Fantastic February transitioned into marvelous March on Mount Hood, and as this winter’s erratic attitude improved dramatically from depressing December, it delivered enough snow by the start of spring to end in an almost average April. And although winter came with little rhyme or reason, Mount Hood skiers and snowboarders got their powder fixes, eventually, ski resorts salvaged their seasons and the all-important snowpack got back on track to end at near normal.
Thanks to a series of momentous February storms and another round that delivered a few last week, the snowpack in the Mount Hood region is currently just a few points below average — a dramatic improvement from earlier in the winter, when measurements were well below half of average at the same locations.
As of April 1, snow water equivalent measurements for the official Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Mt. Hood Test Site (at 5,370 feet) read 93 percent of median, while the site at Red Hill (4,410 feet) was at 88 percent.
While much of the Columbia basin — stretching into Idaho, western Montana and parts of southern Canada — has experienced similar improvements, much of Oregon is worrisome in the face of a widespread drought. As of March, conditions were alarming enough in the state’s southern counties of Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur, for Gov. Kitzhaber to declare a state of emergency, while other counties were considering similar declaration requests unless the month brought significant moisture.
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Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive
The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge