Much to the chagrin of holiday travelers, the higher elevations of Washington have already enjoyed a healthy amount of snow, only a few weeks into the season. According to Scott Pattee with NRCS, the statewide snowpack is at 136% of average. He said it’s good for a variety of reasons to get this much snow early in the year.
“One, it just starts building it, and we need it, the reservoir systems were fairly well depleted this last season, and it’s late enough now that this snow is going to stick around for the rest of the season. And then when we do get the big dumps of snow in January like that…hopefully…then it just adds to it and it gives us a good buffer to get into spring and summer.”
Pattee added the snow is very wet, which will be good news for irrigation districts across the state. When taking a look at the snow season ahead, Pattee noted it is early, but he’s fairly optimistic.
“It’s a La Niña, and the forecast is for a fairly strong La Niña, which typically means cooler and wetter, and so being able to start right off really early season like this really has a good feel to it, if you will.”
Pattee noted the past two Novembers and Decembers recorded very little snow accumulation in the higher elevations, so 2020 has been a welcomed surprise. When it comes to individual basins:
- The Upper Columbia is at 128% of average
- The Central Columbia is at 100% of average
- The Upper Yakima is at 121% of average
- The Naches is at 105% of average
- The Lower Yakima is at 135% of average
- The Klickitat is at 156% of average
- The Lower Columbia is at 121% of average
- The Lower Snake/Walla Walla is at 101% of average
- The Spokane is at 76% of average
- The Lower Pend Oreille is at 68% of average
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