C. Oregon snowpack nearing record lows

Bend business booms -- but bikes, not skis

C.O. snowpack nearing record lows

BEND, Ore. - The snowpack in the Cascades is approaching record lows in some locations, this according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measurements.

On Thursday, the Deschutes and Crooked River Basin had a 75 percent below normal snowpack.

The conditions have not improved since Dec. 16, and a few SNOTEL sites in the basin are at or near record low snowpacks as of Jan. 1.

The USDA says the silver lining is that over half of Central Oregon's snow accumulation season is ahead of us, and history has shown that the snowpack can greatly improve from this point. Officials said if we haven't received much new snow by mid-February, then they may change their tune.

Skiers and snowboarders may be frowning, but mountain bikers and road cyclists are enjoying an extended season.

"Normally, this time of year, all of our Nordic equipment is gone," said Mike Schindler, the co-owner of Sunnyside Sports in Bend. "We rented out all of our bikes out that we had available for rental Wednesday."

The buzz around his shop is the 50-degree days and how nice some of the trails are this far into the traditional snow season.

In fact, Schindler says bikes that he bought for rentals for next spring are already hitting the trails.

"We brought them all down, so everything that I had that I had bought a little bit early for next spring, all went out yesterday," Schindler said.

He also notes that in Central Oregon, winter typically isn't over some years until July 4.

"I think April will probably dump a bunch of snow, when people are really ready to bike," Schindler said. "You just have to be flexible."

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