Rogue River's lack of water in southern Oregon will blow your mind – OregonLive.com
Get ready for a dry summer in Oregon.
Across much of the state, near normal precipitation fell as rain, instead of snow, below 6,000 feet. That made for a lower than normal snow pack across much of the state.
Crater Lake National Park is on pace to have its lowest snow winter since record keeping began in the 1930s. Without more snow, it won’t just be the lowest, it would be around 50 percent of the previous low.
Lack of snow means lack of spring runoff into the state’s rivers.
During an interview last week, the superintendent of Crater Lake National Park made an off-hand comment about how low the flow looked in the upper Rogue River, which starts from a spring in his park and was one of the nation’s first wild and scenic-designated rivers in 1968.
The Rogue is the iconic river of southern Oregon and is known widely among river lovers the world over.
“When I look at the upper Rogue River in the Rogue Gorge, it’s as low as I’ve seen it,” Craig Ackerman, park superintendent, told me.
That motivated me to have a look at the Rogue River when I drove east from Medford through the Prospect and Union Creek areas a few days later.
The Rogue flows in a 100-foot deep defile as it passes through the Rouge Gorge, so it was difficult for me to judge how little water it carried in that section, which is just upstream from Union Creek along Oregon 62.
But I saw the difference in the Avenue of the Boulders, just downstream from Prospect and the Rogue Gorge. I took a photo on Sunday of this year’s low water and used one taken from the same place, the Mill Creek Drive bridge, in 2008, for comparison.
The difference is stunning. It may make you want to save every drop of water that you can, should you rely on the Rogue River for water downstream (see the side-by-side photos and judge for yourself).
Yes, the 2008 photo was taken at the height of the spring runoff that year, while this year’s photo was taken in late winter before the snow melts. The problem is, there won’t be much snow to melt, unless the current weather over Oregon changes.
— Terry Richard