Snowpack

Boise Police Department / Twitter

Much of the Greenbelt is closed and underwater, due to flooding on the Boise River. But eventually, the water will recede, leaving much of the 25 miles of pathway damaged or destroyed. But Boise has a plan once the river slows down.

In many places, the Greenbelt has been totally washed out by the river, which is well above flood stage. And City of Boise Spokesman Mike Journee says there’s more damage below the surface of the path.

Boise Police Department / Twitter

Idaho Governor Butch Otter says residents facing possible springtime flooding aren't taking seriously what he calls a potential disaster.

Otter made a plea Wednesday for people to pay closer attention to the situation on the flooded Boise River.

“We’ve got to get the word out that this is a disaster waiting to happen. We don’t need people to add to it by getting on the river or getting on the river banks,” said Otter.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

As dam officials bump up the water flow on the Boise River yet again this week, it’s a good time to take a look at the numbers that matter during this flooding event.

This week, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to raise the water level at the Glenwood Bridge to 8,500 cubic feet per second. As of Wednesday, crews were pushing 9,240 cfs of water out of Lucky Peak Dam. Gina Baltrusch with the Walla Walla District of the Corps says about 1,000 cfs is being diverted into irrigation canals and the rest is flowing down the Boise.

NMID

Water will start flowing through Boise’s irrigation canals starting next Monday. The Treasure Valley’s largest irrigation district says they expect to have plenty of water this season.

For 112 years, the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District has been providing irrigation water to the Treasure Valley. Next week’s launch of the irrigation season will be the 113th consecutive year for the District.

Flooding is continuing to affect communities in southern and eastern Idaho as warm weather melts significant snowpack in lower elevations.

More than a third of Idaho's 44 counties have declared disaster areas, including Bingham and Caribou. Temperatures cooled on Friday and through the weekend, offering some respite from the runoff, but many communities are already dealing with significant flooding and ice jams.

Bear Lake County officials have also considered signing a disaster declaration due to some flooded basements and fields.

Paul Moody / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho has so much snow that water is already being released from some reservoirs for flood control and Idaho Power has halted most of its cloud-seeding operations.

"It's just an amazing year," said Ron Abramovich, a water supply specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. "I don't think anybody is talking about shortages this year."

USDA

A new federal report shows snowpack levels and water supply projections are above average in the mountains of eastern Idaho and across much of the state.

The Post Register reports the Natural Resource Conservation Service released a study Tuesday showing that eastern Idaho and western Wyoming had among the highest snowpack percentages in the state. The report covered October to Jan. 1.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

The far western United States set records for low snowpack levels in 2015, and a new report blames high temperatures rather than low precipitation levels.

The new study suggests greenhouse gases were a major contributor to the high temperatures. The study was published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Phil Morrisey / National Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relies on data from mountain measuring tools known as SNOTEL sites to forecast how much water Idaho will have each year. This information helps farmers determine which crops to grow (a drier year means they may choose less water-intensive crops) and gives water managers data to plan for flood control. Recreationists use the data to figure out the wildest rivers to ride in the summer.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

Idaho water managers say they will step up funding for a cloud seeding program that's already been credited with increasing the state's mountain snowpack.

The Capital Press reports that the Idaho Power Co. program releases silver iodine into the atmosphere, which helps ice form in the clouds and increases precipitation.

The cloud seeding began in 2003. Idaho Power estimates that the extra snowpack creates an average of 800,000 acre-feet of water, roughly the volume of the American Falls Reservoir. It generates enough hydro-power to supply 17,000 homes.

National Interagency Fire Center

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released its latest fire predictions for 2016.

Wildfire officials say southern Idaho could see above normal fire activity in July and August, while El Nino rains and warmer temperatures in the late spring and early summer could lead to lots of fuels. Lush grasses in May and June should dry by July, increasing the potential for rangeland wildfires. 

Twitter / U.S. Geological Survey Idaho

Despite last year's prediction that El Nino would bring warmer and drier weather to Idaho, the mountain snowpack is filling up reservoirs and swelling rivers around the state. The U.S. Geological Survey in Idaho (USGS) is keeping track of the latter, measuring rivers in different regions of the Gem State. 

In the Treasure Valley, water managers released more water from Lucky Peak Dam last week. As a result, the Boise River jumped to 5,770 cubic feet per second (cfs) Tuesday morning.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A good year of snow and cold weather in the mountains has given water managers throughout the state some much-needed good news. Right now, the threat of drought seems distant. 

 

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.” 

Bogus Basin's Plan To Keep The Mountain White

Dec 18, 2015
Jessica Murri

It’s a cold morning at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area without a single cloud in the sky, but that doesn’t keep snow from piling up on the slopes. That’s thanks to a brand new SMI Super Polecat snow gun, blowing thousands of gallons of water into the freezing air.

“Since November First, we have used 800,000 gallons of water through the snowguns . . . so that’s enough to cover one acre of ground with a foot of snow,” says Director of Mountain Operations at Bogus Basin, Nate Shake.

New Map Details Idaho's Encouraging Snowpacks

Dec 16, 2015
Natural Resources Conservation Service

New data from the federal government show the snow season is off to a strong start in most of Idaho.

The latest map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows 14 of the state’s 21 snowpack regions are above average for mid-December. Many are well above average.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Water experts from around Idaho gathered in Boise earlier this month to brief one another on 2016 forecasts. A slide during a presentation by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) water supply specialist Ron Abramovich solidified a recurring theme: "think snow."

According to this week's forecast, southern Idaho will be not just thinking snow — but experiencing it.

So how do things look so far when it comes to that precious precipitation?

USGS Idaho

It is common knowledge that the drought this year was pretty bad. But just how intense was it, and what can we learn about it for future water supply shortages? These are some of the questions scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey across the West are asking. They are studying streams and rivers in six states, including Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Screen grab usbr.gov / Bureau of Reclamation

The three big reservoirs on the Boise River started summer with a good bit of water left over from the previous year. Altogether, they are a little under half full right now. That’s below normal, according to Brian Sauer with the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise.

“And we’re still in irrigation season so it will drop some more,” Sauer says.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Friday significantly expanded a drought declaration due to dwindling snowpack.