Skip Navigation

News Release

Late start to winter snowpack delivers varied snow conditions across Oregon

NEWS_RELEASE_HEADER-UPDATEDNews Release: 2019-01-011

Scott Oviatt, Snow Survey Supervisory Hydrologist

Julie Koeberle, Snow Survey Hydrologist

PORTLAND, Ore. - (Jan. 9, 2019) - Midwinter storms brought significant snowfall and most of eastern Oregon’s mountains have near normal snowpack. Central and western parts of the state remain below normal. This is according to the January Water Supply Outlook Report released today by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Map of snow water equivalent percentages across Oregon.Snowpack in the Owyhee basin in eastern Oregon sits at 109 percent of normal, the most in the state. Western Oregon snowpack is about 65 percent of normal overall.

“The long-range weather forecast does not favor significant snowpack recovery in the coming months, but at this early date in the snow season, there is plenty of opportunity for the outlook to change,” said Scott Oviatt, Snow Survey supervisory hydrologist. “Last year at this time, all basins in the state had less than 60 percent of normal snowpack.”

Although most of the state has received less than 90 percent of average precipitation since the water year began on Oct. 1, much of the state’s December precipitation coincided with colder temperatures and fell as snow. This helped some areas reach normal snowpack levels by Jan. 1.

Combined water reservoir storage in most basins is between 60 and 80 percent of average as of the end of December. A hot, dry summer and high irrigation demand followed by a drier than usual autumn has led to lower than average carryover storage. The remaining winter months are critical for determining if reservoir storage levels will recover to normal levels in time for summer irrigation season.

About snow survey

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 is available on the Snow Survey website in a variety of formats. The reports are updated every hour and are available at:

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.