Man found dead after apparently falling into flood-swollen creek amid heavy storms in Oregon

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GRANTS PASS, Oregon — Heavy winter storms that pummeled the state apparently claimed at least one life while dumping much-needed snow on some high-elevation ski resorts and downing power poles in the Willamette Valley, officials said Monday.

However, warm temperatures kept mountain snowpacks — a natural water storage system — far below normal.

The storms began Friday and were expected to end by early Tuesday after causing minor floods in Southern Oregon and scattered power outages on the west and east sides of the Cascade Range. Most of the outages were the result of fallen power poles.

The body of 65-year-old Dorvin "Dwight" Russell was found Saturday snagged in tree branches along Grave Creek in the Sunny Valley area, authorities said.

Russell's home had been cut off by floodwaters, and he apparently left Friday by crossing the creek on a tree that had fallen across it, The Grants Pass Daily Courier ( reported.

It took several hours for a swift-water rescue team, divers and a ropes team to recover the body, Josephine County sheriff's Deputy Sean Rarey said.

In neighboring Jackson County, a body was found in a creek flowing through a large field north of Central Point.

Deputies said they have identified the dead man and were notifying the family. They said the death does not appear to be suspicious but further details were not released, the Mail Tribune ( reported.

Ski areas at Mount Ashland and Mount Bachelor reported more than a foot of snow in the past week. That allowed the Mount Ashland area to reopen after being closed for lack of snow.

The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service reported snowpacks remained low in the Cascades and western Oregon. The snowpack was 9 percent of normal on Mount Hood, 7 percent in the Willamette Basin, 15 percent in the Rogue-Umpqua basins, and 12 percent in the Klamath Basin.

The highest levels recorded were 65 percent of normal in the Harney Basin in southeastern Oregon, and 64 percent in the basins draining into the Grande Ronde, Powder, Burnt and Imnaha rivers.

Information from: Daily Courier,

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