Friday, January 6, 2012

Idaho’s snowpacks less than average

Snow surveyors from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) measured snowpacks around the state last week verifying that snowpacks are below average.

“We’ve been in an extended dry spell since around Thanksgiving Day,” said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “The stagnant weather pattern gave us blue skies during the day and clear skies at night for nearly 30 days.”

Twenty-two snow telemetry sites - the remotely located automated sites that record and transmit snowpack data – registered record low amounts of snow by Christmas Day.

Storms the last week of December finally pushed out the static weather pattern. The storms raised monthly precipitation measurements across the state but not enough to bring snowpacks to average levels. Northern Idaho snowpacks are the best at 75-90% of average for this time of year. Southern and central Idaho snowpacks range from 35 to 65% of average.

“Long term climate forecasts still predict La Niña conditions will bring above average precipitation to the Pacific Northwest for the next several months,” said Abramovich. “We need La Niña and 12 weeks of winter to salvage the year.”

Abramovich added that even if snowpacks remain below average this winter, there is excellent carryover water storage from last year for irrigation, power generation and other uses that rely on the snowpack for water supplies.

NRCS conducts snow surveys at the end of each month from December through May to make snow runoff predictions and water supply forecasts used in managing Idaho’s water resources.

For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supplies for specific basins, please view the complete January 2012 Water Supply Outlook Report online at and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.

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