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News Release

Water Supply Forecast as Varied as this Winter's Weather

Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist

Additional Contact:
Phil Morrisey, Hydrologist, 208.685.6983

NRCS Hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer and Lynn Reese from US Army Corps of Engineers measured 11 feet of snow depth with 57.4 inches of water content, the second highest May measurement since records began in 1955, at the Fish Lake Airstrip snow course in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.BOISE, ID, May 8, 2014–The latest Water Supply Report issued by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows variable precipitation and snowpack conditions across Idaho this winter leading to a wide range of water supply forecasts.

“Depending where you are in the state the conditions can be thin low-elevation snow or near record high snowpack with concerns for drought conditions or floods,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist with the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Some areas have too little water and water supplies will be short; some areas may have too much water and high runoff is a concern. Yet other areas seem to have about the right amount of water.”

Reservoir storage also varies around the state. The Owyhee and Salmon Falls reservoirs have low storage and very low projected inflows. Magic, Little Wood and Mackay reservoirs are 50-80% full but users will have short water supplies. Other reservoirs are near full or scheduled to fill after the peak streamflows occur.

River flows for recreation vary widely as well. The rafting season is past for low-elevation rivers like the Bruneau and Owyhee. The Lochsa and Selway rivers will have high flows over the coming weeks and months as the snowpack melts. Peak streamflow timing and magnitude depends on spring temperatures and precipitation.

Because conditions are so varied around the state, NRCS suggests viewing the full report for information on specific streams and reservoirs. The report is available online at May Water Supply Outlook Report.

“Hang on! We may not be done with this rollercoaster weather ride yet,” Abramovich said. “The increase in variable weather we saw this season keeps our job as hydrologists, forecasters and water managers interesting each year. Having weather that was even close to normal would make water management and planning decisions much easier.” 

There will be one more 2014 water supply report issued in June.



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