Idaho's Snowpack Needs To Hold Out Through The Spring To Battle Drought

Mar 1, 2016

Water Supply Specialist Ron Abramovich measures mountain snow pack at Mores Creek. Abramovich is more hopeful about Idaho's water picture now than at this time last year.
Credit USDA NRCS

Water supply specialist Ron Abramovich has learned never to assume how Idaho’s water forecast will turn out. He works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and says that variability played out this year with El Nino, especially in the northern part of the state. 

“But lucky for us, the jetstream was split," says Ambramovich. "So we still had moisture coming through the Pacific Northwest into Idaho, and then the desert Southwest also got it, so it really helped Idaho’s snowpack tremendously this winter.” 

Abramovich says the winter started out strong with almost twice the normal amount of precipitation across the state. He says December was an especially good month for winter snowpack, and parts of the state that have been in ongoing drought the last few years began to get some relief. He points to the Bruneau and Owyhee Basins as places where farmers are breathing a sigh of relief. 

But snowstorms were more infrequent in February, and spring-like temperatures began to eat away at snow in lower elevations. Abramovich is more optimistic than at this time a year ago. He says the water supply will be in good shape if snow that's already fallen melts slowly, or if it melts quickly, that spring rains help supplement the snowpack. 

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