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Below Average Snow Levels at Crater Lake

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CRATER LAKE, Ore. — While there might not much snow on the ground anywhere in Southern Oregon or Northern California, Crater Lake has measurable snowfall, but not that much.  The national park is feeling the impacts of the driest year on record as well, setting their own record.

On Saturday, the park only had four inches of snowfall on the ground. This is the least amount of measurable snow to have ever been recorded on this day since the park starting logging snow totals back in 1931.

The nice weather is not detouring visitors from coming up to the lake, but it is changing their expectations.

“We were expecting feet and feet and feet of snow and colder conditions, and now they say they have 4-6 inches of snow,” said visitor Katherine Fernandez.

Fernandez and her husband came up to Crater Lake all the way from Southern California to snow shoe and camp.  They checked the weather report before traveling, and knew about the lack of snow but were still surprised.

“Getting up here and seeing the snow that they do have… it’s just ice and hard packed… not exactly what we were expecting,” said Fernandez.

At the beginning of January on an average year, Crater Lake would have roughly 70 inches of snow on the ground.  This year though, only a dismal four inches.   Rangers say this is perfect weather for snowshoers, but not so much for cross country skiers.

“The top of the snow is so icy and crusty, it’s hard to stop if you are going downhill on cross country skis,” said Ranger Dave Grimes.

Rangers said the lack of precipitation is going to impact everyone, and could bring more drought like conditions like last summer.

“The more snow that falls in the park the more water you have outside the park for drinking, irrigation, recreation, for ranching… so this is kind of a bad omen for next summer,” said Ranger Grimes.

However, for now visitors like Fernandez are enjoying the warm dry weather.

“It’s sunny weather so it’s kind of perfect for snow camping because you still get the snow, but with the nice sunny conditions… not with the frigid cold… we’re not too disappointed by it,” said Fernandez.