Top of the PassEarly  in  the  winter,  most  of  Oregon’s  mountains  were  on  track  to  have  a  near  normal  snow   season, according to the June Water Supply Outlook Report released by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, an unusually warm springtime temperatures abbreviated the winter and started an early and rapid snowmelt.
While about half of monitoring sites in the state recorded near normal peak amounts of snow, most of those peaks occurred between one to four weeks earlier than normal. “The early snowmelt has resulted in streamflows peaking sooner and beginning to recede to mid-summer levels up to four weeks early,” said NRCS Snow Survey Supervisor Scott Oviatt.

Collier glacierThe Northwest is facing increased risks from the decline of forest health, earlier snowmelt leading to low summer stream flows, and an array of issues facing the coastal region, according to a new climate assessment report.

Sahalie FallsUsually, when a major wildfire destroys a large forested area in a seasonal zone, snow tends to accumulate at a greater level in the burned area than in adjacent forests. But a new study found that the snowpack melts much quicker in charred areas, potentially changing the seasonal runoff pattern of rivers and streams.
The study by Oregon State University researchers, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, documented a 40 percent reduction of albedo – or reflectivity – of snow in the burned forest during snowmelt, and a 60 percent increase in solar radiation reaching the snow surface.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: Purchase copies online at: Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.