Idaho water supply and snowpacks off to promising start

Hydrologists say many of Idaho’s basins are starting the year with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service conducted this season’s first snow survey at the end of December for the January water supply report.

The water year began on Oct. 1, and November rainfall helped soil moisture recover from the dry summer. Precipitation since October ranges from 100 to 150 percent of normal.

The mountain snowpacks vary from 80 percent to 160 of normal using the new 30-year reference period to calculate the normal. The new normals use the period from 1981 to 2010, which allows comparison to the most recent climatic norms.

So far this year elevation is playing a critical role in where the snow falls and accumulates – the higher the mountains the better the snowpack. The snowpacks in the Lost River Range and the Pioneer Mountains have the highest snowpack percentages. The lowest snowpacks are in Idaho’s lower elevation watersheds, like the Weiser and Owyhee Basins.

According to the report, many Idaho reservoirs are near average with the exception of some in central and southern Idaho. (NRCS)

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