Medford snow forecast gets a reboot


    Pear Blossom Park is seen under a blanket of snow Tuesday afternoon in Medford. Photo by Jamie Lusch

    The warm air that was expected to snuff out today's snowfall has been late to the party but has finally arrived.

    Snow began letting up about 5 p.m., but forecasters are "still on the fence" on whether the weather turns to rain or a much lighter snow, meteorologist Brett Lutz says.

    Either way, forecasters expect air temperatures to increase, no decrease, this evening and the snow level eventually will climb to the 3,000-foot elevation or higher, Lutz says.

    The weather service's Medford office has been operating without internet since Monday because of a fiber optic cable that got cut by tree damage near Springfield, Lutz said. The office is being backed up by the Yreka and Portland locations.

    Officially, Medford's snowfall today was at 4.1 inches as of 6 p.m., according to meteorologist Misty Firmin. One southwest Medford resident reported 4.3 inches and an Eagle Point resident recorded 4.5 inches to the weather service.

    As of early Tuesday evening, Firmin anticipated more snow tonight.

    "There's probably going to be a couple more inches," Firmin said.

    Throughout the day, meteorologists expected the snow to turn into rain. Firmin said the computer model that National Weather Service meteorologists worked from kept expecting the weather to warm up, giving her low confidence in forecasts generated from it.

    "We have been expecting it all day to warm up but it just hasn't," Firmin said.

    A break in the morning, but another storm front is following behind it.

    The clouds show that precipitation will let up by Wednesday morning, but another storm system is following behind, meaning rain or snow could fall in the afternoon.

    In addition to early school closures Tuesday afternoon throughout Southern Oregon, the snow closed the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport's main runway as of 2 p.m., according to a release issued by Jackson County Airport Authority. The airport itself will remain open.

    The airport's website shows that afternoon and evening flights scheduled to arrive from San Francisco, Portland and Santa Barbara and Seattle have been canceled or diverted, and evening flights to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have been canceled.

    Mt. Ashland Ski Area closed Tuesday and will reopen Thursday because of the snow. The Oregon Department of Transportation to close the ski road this morning because extreme weather.

    The ski area advises travelers not to attempt to visit the mountain until they reopen, as the mountain is predicting anywhere between 31 and 57 inches of snowfall over the next two days. Any back country travelers should stay below the area served by the Windsor chairlift because of "extreme avalanche conditions" forming on the upper mountain.

    The city of Medford closed East McAndrews Road between Hillcrest Road and Tamarack Drive because of snow and icy conditions.

    Tuesday's Medford Parks and Recreation Commission meeting has been rescheduled to March 12 because of uncertain driving conditions, according to Medford Parks director Rich Rosenthal.

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