Monday, February 10, 2014

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February Water Supply Outlook Indicates Shortages Likely

BOISE – Despite a series of weekend storms, the Natural Resources Conservation Service released February’s Water Supply Outlook Report which shows irrigation shortages are likely in some areasdue to the current combination of low reservoir storage and low streamflow forecasts. 

A persistent high pressure ridge across the western United States kept storms from providing Idaho with much needed precipitation in January. Snowpacks range from some of the lowest on record in southwest Idaho to near normal in the Clearwater and Upper Snake basins. About one third of Idaho’s Snowpack Telemetry stations are reporting record low precipitation levels for the October 2013 – January 2014 period.

“High elevation snowpacks are near normal in eastern Idaho along the Wyoming border. However, southwest and Idaho snowpacks range from 31to 46% of normal,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist with Idaho NRCS. “Even though these snowpacks are low, they are still better than some areas in our neighboring states which are 15 to 35% of normal.”

Streamflow forecasts across the state decreased in January which affects the flow into reservoirs used for irrigation. Forecast streamflows range from 95% of average in the Clearwater Basin all the way down to 4% for the Big Wood River at Camas Creek. Most reservoir levels are below average creating potential shortages for water users in some areas.

“We expect shortages in the Owyhee, Salmon Falls, and Oakley basins. The severity of the shortage depends on how much precipitation we get in the future and which forecast is used for planning,” said Abramovich.  

Details on snowpack, precipitation, streamflows, and reservoirs for each basin in Idaho are in the full February Water Supply Outlook Report online.

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