Oviatt: Oregon Snowpack Concerning At This Point

The snowpack is very thin across Oregon. In fact, the numbers are so low that Scott Oviatt with NRCS-Oregon calls it concerning. At this point, the only region Oviatt said is not concerning is the northern Cascades area, including the Willamette and the Hood, Sandy-Lower Deschutes basins, which are both well above average for this time of year. Other than that, he noted there’s not much to be excited about.

Oviatt said areas not looking good are many of the “repeat” offenders; the Klamath Basin, as well as the Deschutes Basin stretching into Northeastern Oregon.

“If we think about where the D-3 and D-4 drought monitor categories are currently, and have been for the last almost a year now, these are areas that haven’t received adequate precipitation let alone snowpack accumulation.  Going into the fall we had very low stream flows in those regions, and now we have limited snowpack.  So, now there’s a big concern in those areas.”

The concern he added is not only to meet irrigation needs this spring and summer, but in some cases the needs of municipalities.

Oviatt said it’s been a bad one-two punch for the Pacific Northwest. He said not only has the valve been shut of since January 10th, but Oregon has seen a lot of sun and warm temperatures for this time of year.

“We are seeing record low precipitation values in the mountains.  So, that is our big story right now.  How can we overcome that?  Can we get cooler temperatures and snow accumulations and rain in the low elevation to assist in mitigating the long-term drought.”

Oviatt added the peak of the snow season for Oregon is March 15th through April 1st, so over the next seven weeks the region needs to see not only additional systems, but cooler temperatures to keep the snowpack in place as long as possible.

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