Continued Dry Spell Affects Water Supply Outlook
Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist
Jeff Anderson, Hydrologist: 208.378.5740
Phil Morrisey, Hydrologist: 208.685.6983
Alexis Collins, Public Affairs: 208.685.6978
BOISE, ID, April 5, 2013 – A dry March added little accumulation to Idaho’s snowpack which was measured at the end of the month by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The most recent water supply outlook report released this week by the NRCS shows the current conditions for each basin in Idaho.
“Snowpack percentages decreased again,” said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “With three straight months of below normal precipitation, the questions to answer now are: ‘where do we stand with regards to our water supply?’ and, ‘is there hope for spring precipitation?’”
Precipitation was meager in southwest and central Idaho ranging from 35-65 % of average. Northern and eastern Idaho fared better with 80-89% of average. Luckily last autumn’s ample precipitation recharged soil moisture deficits and provided a jump start for the winter snowpack.
Like money in the bank, having reservoir storage water rights will help this year. Surface irrigation supplies will be adequate for Payette, Little Wood, Owyhee and Bear Lake water users, marginally adequate for the Boise, Big Lost, Big Wood, Little Wood, and Oakley Basin and Snake River water users. Shortages are likely for the Magic and Salmon Falls irrigators. Any rain now will help reduce early season irrigation demand, but by summer’s end many reservoirs will be near their minimal storage levels.
Blame it on the Polar Vortex. “It was another factor that contributed to the disrupted jet stream over the western half the states,” Abramovich said. A split jet stream flow diverted storms to the north and south of the western U. S. leaving those states dry this winter.
The complete April 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report is available online at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow and click on the ‘April 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report’ link. The report includes snowpack, precipitation, runoff, and water supply information for specific basins.
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.
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