Sunday, January 26, 2014

January Spring: Garfield Peak and Crater Lake

Tracking our weather has become something of an obsession for me this winter.  The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, a fixture for the last 13 months, has kept the entire US west coast dry (during what is ordinarily our rainy season), depriving our mountains of their normally deep snowpacks. In Oregon, Hoodoo and Mount Ashland ski areas aren't open yet, and Willamette Pass is hanging on by a thread. Medford has experienced record high temperatures on each of the last three days.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January Spring on Tumalo

I spent last weekend consuming great local wine and delicious food in eastern Washington. To break up Sunday's return drive to southern Oregon, I took a quick detour off US 97 for a ski tour at Tumalo Mountain, near Bend. Things weren't quite as effortless as the last time I was there. A strong temperature inversion created by the now infamous Ridiculously Resilient Ridge had temperatures quite balmy on the mountain. In fact, there was corn to be found on southerly aspects exposed to the sun. Everything else was bulletproof ice.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tumalo Pow

Powder days have been few and far between in the Pacific Northwest this season. I had an incredible day at Crater Lake in early December. But since then, from the California Sierras to the Washington Cascades, most of the western US has been buried under the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, leaving us with temperature inversions and record low precipitation. So while national media outlets have been frothing with dramatic "polar vortex" stories, the Cascades and Siskiyous have been sitting high and dry.

But I digress. Early last week, winter returned to the northwest with a vengeance when forecast models revealed the Oregon Cascades would receive three to six feet of snowfall over the course of the week. I didn't want to miss out on a scarce powder opportunity, so I quickly put together plans to convene with some of my powder starved friends in central Oregon for the weekend. I left Medford after work on Friday, and by 10 pm I was drinking beers in a cabin at Black Butte Ranch outside of the small town of Sisters at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hope on the Horizon?

It's been a rough twelve months for snow lovers in Oregon, with 2013 ending as the driest year in recorded history for much of the state. However, after a month of no significant precipitation, this week appears to be a (relatively) active one. Pictured below is the snowfall map for the three-day period ending Friday night, which shows twenty-plus inches near Crater Lake, Mount Bachelor, and the Three Sisters.

So do your snow dance and make an offering to the snow gods. We need everything we can get this week, because it looks a return to a dry pattern next week.