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Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

Mother Nature's toying with us, teasing us with just enough cold air and moisture to send snowflakes flying for a few hours Tuesday morning, then chasing the storm with an afternoon of peekaboo sunshine.

Expect a week's worth of such capriciousness, meteorologists say. It'll be cold and cloudy, cold and sunny, cold with a chance of rain and cold with a chance of snow from now through Sunday.

We're unlikely to get the kind of full-on blizzard that smacked around East Coast residents during the weekend and left behind a couple of feet of snow. Most of Tuesday's snow in Oregon accumulated in the Cascade and Coast ranges and foothills with just 3 inches reported at Santiam Pass on Highway 126. The snowflakes that fell in the Eugene and Springfield area from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. were gone by noon.

Which is a shame, Lane County Extension agent Ross Penhallegon said.

"We need 2 feet of snow to close everything down for two or three days," he said.

Penhallegon isn't a glutton for weather punishment - hazardous driving conditions, closed schools and a run on shovels. Instead, he's got gardens on his mind.

"Snow is an incredibly good insulator. It insulates pipes. It insulates bulbs," he said. A blanket of snow helps prevent the ground from freezing, he said.

That would be nice about now, because low nighttime temperatures for the next week could harm some plants.

Most can tolerate chilly weather in the 28- to 32-degree range, but if the temperature drops to the low 20s or high teens and stays there, it can cause problems, Penhallegon said.

Some plum and early peach trees, which are budding now, could be affected.

"If it drops and stays at 25, then we'll start to see some freeze damage," he said. "The longer the cold lasts, the more damage we'll have."

Meteorologists predict well-below freezing nights for the next several days, which not only creates problems for plant life but for drivers as well after wet roadways freeze overnight.

"This whole moisture band is slipping to the south," National Weather Service Meteorologist Tyree Wild said. "The remainder of the week we're entrenched in very cold air."

The Eugene-Springfield area can expect highs in the low to mid-40s through Sunday with overnight lows ranging from 20 to 23 degrees.

Friday night looks to be the coldest at 20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service forecast.

These temperatures tug a little on the boundaries of normal for February and could break some daily record lows.

The average minimum temperature for February is 34.4 degrees, and the average maximum for the month is 49.5.

The record low came on Feb. 3, 1950, when the temperature plummeted to minus 3 degrees. The hottest day, 72 degrees, occurred on Feb. 19 in 1995.

As for snow, the record for a February storm was in 1993 when 5.7 inches fell between Valentine's Day and the 15th.

Today and Thursday, expect partly cloudy weather and little chance of precipitation, but meteorologists predict a 20 percent chance of snow periodically between Thursday night and Sunday.

Gardeners worried about roses and other plants just putting on new growth can protect them with a layer of mulch, Penhallegon said.

Put straw around the base of the plant and cover it with an old quilt or blanket, he said.


In Hendricks Park on Tuesday morning, volunteer gardener Ray Scofield, 76, pulls weeds as the snow falls. Scofield, a retired teacher, is one of several volunteers who report to the park every Tuesday, snow or shine, to help tend the gardens. Paul Carter / The Register-Guard The pitch from Jeramy Hallford looks high and outside as he and classmate Tim Neighbors from Riverfront School toss snowballs in Hendricks Park on Tuesday morning.
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Title Annotation:Weather; A brief interlude of snow ushers in a stretch of downright cold temperatures
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 15, 2006
Previous Article:BRIEFLY.
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