80 inches in 10 days brings snowpack back to near normal

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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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