MEDFORD, Ore. — Snow is better than rain. That’s what the Oregon Department of Forestry says when it comes to hampering fire season.
“Snow up to the mid- to higher elevations ... saturates the dead downed wood: the treetops, the big branches," Brian Ballou, Public Information Officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon Division said.
Rain is always welcome, but it runs off into lakes and streams. Snow slowly seeps into the ground, large trees, branches, and fuel for wildfires.
“If you have a real lean snow year, that stuff may not get completely saturated, so it dries out quickly,” Ballou said.
He says if that's the case: "We'll likely have larger fires earlier in the summer and it becomes a worse problem as the summer goes on."
The Medford region is about 1.5 inches above average so far when it comes to rain. But the Southern Oregon snow pack is only at 60 - 70 percent on average.
That’s especially a problem for the Klamath Basin.
“They rely more on well water and the rivers," Spencer Higginson, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said. "They need the snow pack and the rainfall even more than we do."
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