Skip Navigation

News Release

Oregon braces for low water supply season

Seasonal snowpack well below normal

NEWS_RELEASE_HEADER-UPDATEDRelease No. 2018.05.036

Contact:
Julie Koeberle, Snow Survey Hydrologist
503-414-3272, julie.koeberle@or.usda.gov

Corrected news release (May 11, 2018): A previous version of this news release incorrectly stated a drought state of emergency had been declared in Baker County.

Governor Kate Brown has officially declared a drought state of emergency for Klamath and GRANT Counties.

This error has been corrected in the below release and in the May Water Supply Report. We apologize for the inconvenience.

PORTLAND, Ore., May 7, 2018  Snow measurements across the state are below normal for this time of year, and water users who depend on streamflow for water are advised to plan for lower than usual supplies. Southern and eastern Oregon are expected to be most affected by low streamflows.

This according to the May Water Supply Outlook Report released by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"During a normal May, about 45 percent of our snow monitoring sites are snow-free. This year, 60 percent are without snow," said Julie Koeberle, snow survey hydrologist.

Many reservoirs that assist irrigation are storing near average amounts of water for this time of year, which may provide a much needed buffer for those who have access.

Snow map for May 6, 2018.

Too little, too late

The month of April was wetter than normal for most of the state. Statewide precipitation was 124 percent of average. Despite this, most of the state has received below average amounts of precipitation this season.

Late winter snowfall rescued the state's snowpack from record low territory, but it wasn't enough to improve the water supply outlook.

Creeping drought

Governor Kate Brown has officially declared a drought state of emergency for Klamath and Grant Counties, with more counties likely to follow.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has included 40 percent of Oregon in a moderate drought status and NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer and drier than normal weather for the next three months.

About NRCS Snow Survey

Detailed interpretations, forecasts and historical data are available on the Water Supply Outlook webpage.

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 is available on the Snow Survey website in a variety of formats. The reports are updated every hour and are available at: www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/snow.

NRCS publishes six monthly Oregon Water Supply Outlook Reports between Jan. 1 and June 1 every year. To regularly receive this information as an email announcement, visit the Oregon NRCS Snow Survey website and click the “email updates” icon to subscribe.

Corrected news release (May 11, 2018): A previous version of this news release incorrectly stated a drought state of emergency had been declared in Baker County.

Governor Kate Brown has officially declared a drought state of emergency for Klamath and GRANT Counties.

This error has been corrected in the above release and in the May Water Supply Report. We apologize for the inconvenience.