Despite April Storms Oviatt Still Cautious About Oregon Snowpack

According to one expert, while the higher elevations of Oregon saw substantial snow over the past four weeks, the state is not out of the drought woods by any stretch of the imagination. Scott Oviatt with NRCS Oregon said snowpacks across the state have increased considerably from the numbers reported in early April. However, he said while the number released May 9th are encouraging, he feels its too little, too late.

“When we talked last month, we had a period of very warm weather and melt out in late March and early April, and the additional snow just brought it up to where it had previously been.  And if you look at the snowpack map the values are very deceptive.  What we want to think about is the amount of water in the snowpack that is a deficit from the peak median, and all other basins across the state, with the exception of the three I previously mentioned [the Willamette, the Hood-Sandy-Lower Deschutes and the Umatilla-Walla Walla-Willow basins], are in deficit mode.”

Oviatt added the state was extremely dry in late 2021, and area reservoirs suffered, meaning the state’s soil moisture levels started 2022 in negative territory. He added he still has concerns about several portions of the state.

“If we think of, of course SW Oregon, which over the last 10-20 years has been an issue with Lake County and of course the Klamath Basin, but areas like the John Day Basin, and even in NE Oregon in the Grand Ronde-Burnt-Powder-Imnaha are from southern Wallowa County down into Union and Baker counties, there’s not as much water as we would anticipate normally and what we’d like to see.”

What are Oviatt’s thoughts as we look towards the upcoming irrigation season?

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One Response

  1. Why has the current snowpack level via NCRS.USDA.GOV website for Oregon stopped showing the snowpack levels. It now just shows the total precipitation amount for the year. Obviously, the snowpack levels are doing quite well this year and the NCRS.USDA.GOV was reflecting that….your image above was showing the snowpack level and now they have taken that information away. Guessing it is just a political move to steer people away from knowing how well the snowpack levels are doing. Curious minds want to know.

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