Saturday, February 22, 2014
Unfamiliar sounds of hooting and hollering have returned to the powder-laden slopes and forests of Mount Hood this week, as Jack Frost laid to rest any doubts that the ski season would be spared from what looked to be a frightfully dismal winter. And powder hounds with perma-grins and frosted facial hair aren’t the only ones rejoicing in the reported 134 inches of snow that has fallen so far this month on the slopes of Mount Hood.
Going in to February, the snowpack at Mount Hood’s official test station at 5,370 feet was less than half of the historic average, leaving many valley residents, farmers and watershed managers who rely on a healthy snowpack through the summer months nervously awaiting a change in weather patterns. The good news started the first week of February, as a modest but welcomed 8 inches was measured on the slopes of Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area. Another 60 inches fell over the next 12 days as a teaser to this week, when the heavens opened and dropped 47 inches of light, fluffy powder in three days, including 17-inch dumps on Tuesday and Thursday.
As of Friday morning, Natural Resources Conservation Service data shows the Mount Hood test site at 93 percent of median, while the greater basin index, which includes the Hood, Sandy and Lower Deschutes, is at 76 percent.
In Hood River County, NRCS test sites sit at Red Hill (4,410 ft.) and Green Point (Mount Defiance, 3,310 ft.). This month’s storms brought the Red Hill snowpack up to 82 percent, but the Green Point station remains low, reading just 47 percent of average.
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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