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Basin soaked; more coming

Charles McCarthy and his 8-year-old daughter, Comfrey McCarthy, make their way across a slushy Main Street in Klamath Falls this morning. The McCarthys, who are from San Francisco, were in the Klamath Basin to view bald eagles.

Published Feb. 17, 2004


Soggy, snowy fields look good to Dave Solem, manager of the Klamath Irrigation District.

"It's looking better, as long as we are in this pattern and getting snow," he said.

But puddled-pocked fields in February don't guarantee water for sprinklers in the summer. Upper Klamath Lake is still low for this time of year, and its waters must be divided among suckers and salmon, irrigators and national wildlife refuges.

Although Cecil Lesley, Klamath Reclamation Project chief of land and operations, welcomes the storm system, he does so cautiously.

"One storm does not a full lake make," he said Monday. "It's nice to get some wet weather, but the lake is not showing a real strong response to it yet."

The Kingsley Field weather station reported 0.68 inch of precipitation Monday, but the lake level didn't go up much.

Monday the lake was at an elevation of 4,140.72 feet above sea level. At full pool the lake is at 4,143.3.

Lesley said the lake gained 0.04 of a foot Monday, up just a smidgen from the about 0.03 of a foot per day the lake had been gaining lately.

But the storm is adding to the snowpack.

Crater Lake got 23 inches of new snow Monday, according to the National Weather Service. The snow brought a 5 percent rise to the mountain snowpack, pushing it from 125 percent of average Monday to 130 percent today.

The wet and relatively warm system that brought the rain and snow had tinges of a "Pineapple Express," or a moisture-laden storm system that starts in the Hawaiian Islands, said Ryan Sandler, meteorologist at the Weather Service's Medford office.

After today, a series of weak storm systems should come into the Basin. Sandler said they'll bring moisture, but not as much as Monday's storm.

"There is no system like this one in the near term," he said.

For tonight, there is a 70 percent chance of rain and snow, with the snow level at 4,500 feet. Rain and snow showers are expected to linger in the Basin throughout the week.

On the Net: www.wrh.noaa.gov/Medford/climo


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