Oregon’s snowpack made a remarkable recovery last month, significantly improving the state’s water supply outlook, according to a report.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said snowpack and streamflow forecasts “lean towards an adequate water supply situation for many areas of the state” as of March 1. The coming weeks and months will determine the state’s spring and summer water supply outlook, however.
The agency said several storm systems and unseasonably cold temperatures that lasted for most of February replenished an early-season snowpack deficit.
Seven of the state’s long-term snow monitoring sites, for example, broke March 1 snowpack records. And more than 30 percent of those sites had their highest February snow accumulations on record.
Snowpack throughout the state now sits above normal in nearly all areas, though the snowpack in the Hood, Sandy, and Lower Deschutes basins around Mount Hood is slightly below average.
“Unseasonably cold temperatures and ample moisture in February were welcome signs of improvement for Oregon’s water supply and drought situations,” Scott Oviatt, Snow Survey supervisory hydrologist, said in a statement.
A wet February didn’t completely wipe out drought concerns, however. Nearly 64 percent of the state is in moderate to severe drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor data available.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service said spring and summer streamflow is expected to range from near normal to well above normal in most Oregon basins. Streamflow forecasts for parts of the Deschutes River basin and Mount Hood region hovered about 5 to 20 percent below normal as of March 1, however.
“The weather over the next few months will greatly affect the summer water supply story for this year, but the current trajectory is looking positive for the state’s streams and rivers,” the agency said in its March 1 report.