Washington’s Snowpack May Not Be As Great As Many Think

Despite the recent winter storms that have hit the Pacific Northwest, the snowpack across Washington is not extraordinary by any stretch of the imagination. Scott Pattee with NRCS Washington said the statewide snowpack is 113% of average for this time of year, which he said sounds good, but he was quick to point out western Washington is the reason that figure is so high. He says since the lower elevations are seeing snow, many assume the mountains are getting dumped on.

“The funny thing is we’re supposed to be getting dumped on this time of year.  So, the snows that we’ve been getting here as of late and over the Christmas holiday really weren’t that much more than normal as far as in the mountains.  Down in the valleys, yeah, much above normal, that’s a totally different story.  But up in the mountains, not so much.  So, that’s why we still have some of those numbers that are kind of below normal a little bit.”

When it comes to the individual basins across Washington:

  • Spokane 92% of normal
  • Pend Oreille is 82% of normal
  • Upper Columbia 111% of normal
  • Central Columbia 90% of normal
  • Upper Yakima 82% of normal
  • Naches 101% of normal
  • Lower Yakima 86% of normal
  • Lower Snake-Walla Walla 87% of normal
  • Klickitat 104% of normal
  • Lower Columbia 121% of normal
  • South Puget Sound 100% of normal
  • Central Puget Sound 103% of normal
  • North Puget Sound 109% of normal
  • Olympic 138% of normal

Pattee added when it comes to reservoir recharge across the state, things are looking OK.

“I think the basins that need the water, the snowpack, that don’t really have much storage have that snowpack now, as long as we can maintain it through the season.  And then basins like the Yakima, they really got a lot of rain poured into those reservoirs this fall so, the last word I got is their reservoirs are on track to have good water supply this year.”

Pattee added while the snowpack is not where it should be for this time of year, now is not the time to panic.

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2 Responses

    1. Randy, our interview with Scott took place Monday morning (01/03/22) and the story aired Tuesday (01/04/22). And according to Scott, at the time of the interview, it was the most recent data available to his team.
      Thank you for your comment.

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