Oregon Summer Water Supplies Still Forecasted to be Low
NRCS April Water Supply Outlook is available online
Release No. 2014.04.009
Melissa Webb, NRCS Hydrologist
Julie Koeberle, NRCS Hydrologist
Portland, Ore. (Apr. 4, 2014) – April 1, traditionally represents the end of snow accumulation and the beginning of the melt season in the mountainous regions of the Western US. While recent storms across Oregon brought much needed precipitation, the highly variable snowpack did not reach normal peak levels at most measurement sites this winter. Except for areas in northeast Oregon, the snowpack has reached its seasonal peak, 15-75% below the normal amount, depending on location. Some southern Oregon locations received more snow during the last week in March than they have had on the ground all winter.
“The snowpack we have now is what we should plan on working with this year,” said Julie Koeberle, NRCS Hydrologist. “Any additional moisture received this spring will be a bonus.”
March continued Oregon’s wet spell, bringing 136 to 189 percent of average precipitation across the state. However, since the water year began on October 1, the majority of Oregon’s basins have received less than normal precipitation (69 to 100 percent).
Crook county was added to the growing list of counties where Governor Kitzhaber has declared a drought emergency. The list now includes Klamath, Lake, Harney, Malheur and Crook counties. The latest drought conditions can be found on the drought monitor website: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.
Ample precipitation the past couple months has yielded increased streamflows and helped fill reservoirs across the state. This is welcome news for those water managers and producers with water supplies linked to reservoirs. The boost in snowpack caused streamflow forecasts to increase since the March 1 report. As of April 1, the best April through September streamflow forecasts are found in the northern river basins (65-100% of normal). The lowest April through September streamflow forecasts are found in the drought stricken areas of the southern basins (33-66% of normal).
The latest information on Oregon’s streamflow forecasts can be found in the Water Supply Outlook Report recently released by the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS).
The NRCS Snow Survey is the federal program that measures snow and provides streamflow forecasts and snowpack data for communities, water managers and recreationalists across the West. In Oregon, snow measurements are collected from 81 SNOTEL sites, 42 manually measured snow courses, and 26 aerial markers. Water and snowpack information for all SNOTEL sites nationwide are available on the Snow Survey Web site in a variety of formats. The reports are updated every hour and are available on the NRCS Web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/or/snow/.
NRCS publishes six monthly Oregon Water Supply Outlook Reports between Jan. 1 and June 1 every year. Look for next month’s report from NRCS for the latest information on water supply forecasts in Oregon.
A digital copy of the April, NRCS Oregon Basin Outlook Report, can be found at the following link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/or/snow/
To regularly receive this information as an email announcement, contact Julie Koeberle at email@example.com or 503-414-3272 to subscribe.
Image: Oregon SNOTEL current Snow Water Equivalent, percent of normal as of April 4, 2014; The snow water equivalent represents the depth of water in the snowpack expressed in inches if the snowpack were melted.
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