Cold, wet holiday weekend predicted

While Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a time to get outside and maybe even pitch a tent near a mountain lake, National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Sandler suggests that people might want to consider alternative plans this year.

"A lot of people go camping this weekend, but it's going to be nasty on Saturday and Sunday morning," he said. "If you are going to be in a tent, it probably won't be comfortable.

Sandler's office is forecasting the second-coldest high temperature for May 28 since the agency began recording temperatures in Medford 100 years ago.

"Our forecast is for a high of 57 — our normal high for this time of year is 75 degrees," he said.

The coldest high temperature on record for May 28 in Medford is 55 degrees in 1985, he noted.

In Ashland, if just a tad more rain falls before the month is out, we'll have set a new rainfall record for March, April and May, Sandler said. As of this morning, Ashland had received 10.53 inches of precipitation since March 1, he said. The record for that period is 10.61 inches, which fell in 1998.

What's more, the agency is forecasting that the snow level will drop as low as 3,500 feet above sea level. That means popular mountain recreational sites like Fish Lake, Howard Prairie and Lake of the Woods can expect snow showers.

Although the Bear Camp Road linking Grants Pass to Gold Beach is expected to be open late this afternoon, drivers are urged to use extreme caution, said Virginia Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Road crews have been punching through snow drifts to reopen the road that is closed during the winter.

"People using that road now have to be prepared for any kind of weather this weekend," Gibbons said. "They should make sure they have emergency gear and food, and they need to be very cautious when driving."

The mountain road rises to about 4,500 feet above sea level.

"This weather isn't unprecedented," Sandler said. "We've had some cold Memorial Day weekends. But this is unusual. It would be nice to have sunny, 75-degree weather."

Unfortunately, next week doesn't look much better, he said.

While Monday's temperatures will likely reach the high 60s, another storm is expected to blow in from the Gulf of Alaska late that day, he said.

"A good part of next week will be cooler and wetter than normal," he predicted.

— Paul Fattig

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