Record February snowfall reduces drought concerns
drastically improved precipitation levels in Klamath County
during the month of February, as indicated by this chart from
the March 1 Oregon Basin Outlook Report by the Natural Resources
of Oregon’s snow monitoring stations broke records for
snowpack level for February, but drought conditions are
still declared in some parts of the state.
snow monitoring site in Oregon received above-average
precipitation in February, with many reporting more than 200
percent of normal amount for February levels. Snowpack and
stream flow forecasts predict adequate water supply for much
of the state, though continued precipitation over the next
several months will ultimately determine water supply
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) released its Oregon Basin
Outlook Report, which provides a current status of water
supply, snowpack and forecasts as of data collected through
the end of February. The report indicates that despite
February being the shortest month of the year, consistent
snowfall throughout the month significantly contributed to
the water supply outlook across Oregon.
“Unseasonably cold temperatures and ample moisture in
February were welcome signs of improvement for Oregon’s
water supply and drought situations,” said Scott Oviatt,
Snow Survey supervisory hydrologist. “This report serves as
a good reminder that forecasts should be used as guidance,
not gospel, as conditions can and do change rapidly.”
the situation has greatly improved since a statewide drought
declaration was made last year, drought concerns remain.
Extreme drought status has been lowered across the state as
a result of February’s precipitation increase, but over 60
percent of Oregon still remains at drought levels of
moderate to severe.
Drought conditions remain most severe in Central Oregon,
where the Hood, Sandy and Lower Deschutes Basin remain the
only in the state below 100 percent of median for snow-water
equivalent based on current Oregon Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL)
sites. Snowpack levels in John Day, Lake County and Goose
Lake basins reported the highest levels, nearly 150 percent
of normal snowpack levels.
Reservoir levels are generally below-average or average
levels for March, with significant inflows expected as
snowpacks melt, with spring and summer streamflow expected
to be normal to well above normal in the majority of the
Current Klamath County levels are reported at 119 percent of
normal media snow-water equivalency, and 103 percent of
water year-to-date precipitation. Lake County reports the
highest levels of any in the state at 153 percent of normal
media snow-water equivalency.
February snowfall made a dramatic change in Klamath County’s
overall snowpack, which was at only 69 percent of normal to
start February. The NRCS report shows basin snowpack now at
109 percent, with February precipitation at 221 percent of
average. Reservoir levels range from 84 percent of average
at Clear Lake to 123 percent of average at Gerber Reservoir.
The NRCS Snow Survey is a federal program created to monitor
snow and streamflow data and forecasts. A total of 81 SNOTEL
sites are located around Oregon. Current SNOTEL reports are
updated hourly at www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/snow.
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