Dry, unseasonable weather leads to drought concerns

Current drought monitor map indicates that the areas in the yellow are in the "dry" category (KTVL)

The sunshine may be nice, but this is the 13th driest wet year on record, according to the NOAA.

High pressure is blocking any wet weather from impacting southern Oregon and northern California, and meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Medford are predicting the dry weather to continue throughout most of February.

"The farthest we've ever gone was from February 1st to February 20th without measurable precipitation, so it has happened here that we've had almost three weeks of dry conditions in February," says Ryan Sandler, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "That's unusual; that's the record."

2016-2017 had a very wet winter and spring. The weather lead to a generous snowpack, and the reservoirs are carrying over that water today.

However, because it has been so dry and warm, the snowpack is getting lower and lower.

"In February, that's uncommon," says Sandler. "We're usually still in the wet season, still supposed to be building snowpack."

While we should be concerned with what seems to be "out-of-the-norm", some residents are not complaining.

"I've only lived here a year and I'm bowled over," says Sharon Fischer, an Eagle Point resident soaking in the sun at Hawthorne Park on Friday. "I got here last December and it was rainy, rainy, rainy all winter. I moved here right before the big snow, so this is amazing. I love it!"

Sandler says it is still early to determine if we will be in a drought this year, because other than ski areas and resorts, impacts to irrigation isn't known until later on in the year. In the meantime, reservoirs are being closely monitored.

"[Reservoirs] should be filling this time of year, so if they start dropping, then we're going to start ramping up the drought resignation to the first level of drought," says Sandler, "and if it continues to be dry, we could go into more severe levels of drought."

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