Friday, January 20, 2012

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IDAHO’S SNOWPACKS IMPROVE


Boise – Despite heavy snow storms this week; Snow surveyors from the Natural Resources Conservation Service say that measured snowpacks around the state are still below average.


“That extended dry spell from Thanksgiving to mid-December gave us blue skies during the day and cold nights but little else,” said Ron Abramovich Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist.


The Gem State’s twenty-two snow telemetry sites registered record low levels of snow in December and early January. But storms in mid January finally pushed out the static weather pattern and raised monthly precipitation measurements across the state but not enough to bring snowpacks to average levels, yet.


Abramovich says that La Nina high pressure ridges that dominated in November and December that form during these cycles break down, but still can give snowpacks time to build up.


“We’ve seen a few catch up models,” said Abramovich. “Especially the past few years, with this weather pattern we can get close to average levels as long as this storm track stays in place and the high pressure system stay’s north.”


“Long term climate forecasts still predict La Niña conditions will bring above average precipitation to the Pacific Northwest for the next several months,” said Abramovich. “But we need La Niña and 12 weeks of winter to salvage the year.”


Northern Idaho snowpacks are the best at 75-90% of average for this time of year. Southern and central Idaho snowpacks range from 35 to 65% of average. “The big storms have hit the driest parts of the state, things are looking up in Central Idaho,” added Abramovich.


The January storms tripled snowpack in the McCall and Bogus Basin area. Ski Areas that got off to a slow start, opened a month late. “They’re playing catch up too, but most should be okay the rest of the season,” said Abramovich.


Abramovich says that even if snowpacks remain below average this winter, there’s till excellent carryover water from last year. Reservoirs don’t need as much water as years past. He says there should be more than enough for for irrigation, power generation and recreation.


Forecasters across the Northwest say that the storm track pattern is changing and the ridge of high pressure or the "bubble of warm air" that had deflected storms northward into Canada and buried Alaska has broken down for now.



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