Winter weather finally due to hit

So where's the snow? A late-fall scene in Ritter should bask in white, but a high-pressure system over the region kept snow at bay. By mid-week, however, Oregon should receive a blanket of snow. Mother Nature has some catching up to do. Basins are woefully lacking in moisture. On Dec. 9, the Malheur Basin "snotel" site logged 4 percent of average snow-water equivalent; and 18 percent of average accumulated precipitation. The John Day Basin recorded only 9 percent of average snow-water equivalent; and 25 percent of average accumulated precipitation. Harney Basin logged 9 percent of average snow-water equivalent; and 24 percent of average accumulated precipitation. The Eagle/DAVID CARKHUFF

PORTLAND - Yes, Virginia, there is supposed to be snow in December. Residents of the West must remain as patient and vigilant as a child waiting for St. Nicholas, but their forbearance will be rewarded this week, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service's National Water and Climate Center in Portland. On Dec. 9, the center reported that "the weather pattern will take on more typical December characteristics this week. Storm systems will finally begin to move into the Pacific Northwest, and as the week progresses the strong ridge of high pressure at upper levels of the atmosphere that has been providing the dry weather since about Nov. 20 will break down.

"The first storm, a rather weak one, will move onshore to Oregon and Washington on Monday (Dec. 9), followed by showers on Tuesday. The snow level will remain rather high for this time of year - over 7,000 feet to begin, but will fall to more typical 4,000 feet or so by late Tuesday in the Cascades. A stronger storm riding on a strong jet stream will be aimed at the northwest Washington and Vancouver Island coastlines by late Wednesday and Thursday, and will bring heavy rain to those areas, as well as some rain with snow mostly above 5,000 feet in the Oregon and Washington Cascades. After Thursday the storm track will be aimed at Washington and Oregon, and colder air from the Gulf of Alaska will finally move in over the weekend, when snow levels could drop to 2,000 to 3,000 feet finally.

"The storms early in the week will mainly affect Washington and Oregon, though some mountain snow showers are possible in Idaho, western Montana and western Wyoming Tuesday and Wednesday, and over Colorado later Wednesday and into Thursday. The storms late in the week, though, will drop further south, finally affecting California by about Thursday and Friday, reaching as far south as Los Angeles by this weekend or early next week. It was another dry week for most of the West. The majority of the West reported double digit decreases in percent of average snowpack and cumulative precipitation. The large decreases are due to the typical weather at this time of year are usually the wettest time of year for most locations. Many states also have less than half the amount of snowpack for this time of year. Only Arizona and New Mexico reported an increase in snowpack and precipitation for some basins last week (Dec. 1-7). Oregon and Washington remain the driest states in snowpack and cumulative precipitation for this time of year. All states in the West are now behind in snowpack, with only seven basins in the West with snowpacks at or above 100 percent. Some areas of the West are experiencing multiyear low water conditions, with the hopes of many water-dependent agencies, people and groups are on the snowpack this year." meteorologist Marc Spilde predicted: "A storm system will send Pacific moisture across the Pacific Northwest from Washington to northern California Monday night and Tuesday (Dec. 9-10). As this moisture flows up the slopes of the west coast mountains, rain and snow will fall. The snow levels in the Cascades of Washington, Oregon drop to around 4,000 feet tonight and then to around 3,000 feet by day's end on Tuesday."

The forecast for John Day in particular predicts snow by the weekend.

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