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News Release

Report Shows Well Below Average Snowpack for Most of Oregon

NRCS January Water Supply Outlook Just Released

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Release No. 2014.1.003
Melissa Webb, NRCS Hydrologist, (503) 414-3270, melissa.webb@or.usda.gov
Julie Koeberle, NRCS Hydrologist, (503) 414-3272, julie.koeberle@or.usda.gov

Portland, Ore. – (Jan. 15, 2014) – A powerful storm system swept across the Pacific Northwest last weekend, increasing the snow depth by 20 or more inches at several sites in the Northern and Central Cascades. However, parts of southern Oregon did not receive any new snow, and overall the state snowpack needs many more winter storms to improve the water supply picture.

snowpack_011514Precipitation in Oregon since Oct. 1, has been well below average. Only a few sites in northeast Oregon have seen near normal amounts so far.

Most of the streams in Oregon are expected to have below normal summer streamflows, based on the dry fall and January 1 snowpack conditions.  The best streamflow forecasts range from 68-99% of normal in the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Willow basins. The lowest streamflow forecasts range from 21-51% of normal in the Klamath basin.

“While water supply conditions still have time to improve, the farther into the year we go maintaining these dry conditions, the harder it will be for the water supply to catch back up to normal,” said Julie Koeberle, NRCS Hydrologist.  

The latest information on Oregon’s streamflow forecasts can be found in the Water Supply Outlook Reportrecently 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 January, NRCS Oregon Basin Outlook Report, can be found at the following link:

ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/OR/snow/watersupply/2014/WSOR_2014_Jan.pdf

To regularly receive this information as an email announcement, contact Julie Koeberle at julie.koeberle@or.usda.gov  or 503-414-3272 to subscribe.

Image;Oregon SNOTEL current Snow Water Equivalent, percent of normal as of Jan. 15, 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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Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges.  The NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.

 

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