SALEM - Water shortages are expected in all basins of Oregon this spring and summer, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Water Supply Outlook Report for March 1.
"The storms of February didn't bring any substantial increase to the mountain snowpack; in fact, all basins except the Umatilla, Hood River and Willamette showed a decrease in the snowpack percentages from last month," the report stated. " As of March 1, the snowpack in the mountains of Oregon ranged between 35 percent of average in the Willamette and 69 percent of average in the northeast corner of the state.
"Generally, by March 1, between 80 and 85 percent of the maximum snowpack is on the ground. Having a near normal snowpack in the
mountains of Oregon is becoming less and less of a possibility with each passing day. Last year as of March 1, the snowpack in the mountains of Oregon was between 94 and 140 percent of average."
NRCS warned of possible water shortages for some water users due to precipitation that only measured 79 percent of average on Feb. 1 in the Upper John Day Basin. Streamflow forecasts for the coming spring and summer months varied from 43 percent of average on Camas Creek to 73 percent of average on Mountain Creek, NRCS reported.
The Columbia Basin snowpack index decreased to 74 percent on March 1, compared to 78 percent on Feb. 1 and 107 percent last year. Looking at the sub-basins above The Dalles, the snowpack above Castlegar decreased 9 percent to 72 percent, the snowpack above Grand Coulee decreased 6 percent to 72 percent, while the Snake River snowpack above Ice Harbor decreased 2 percent to 80 percent.
As a rule, most sub-basin snowpack percentages decreased from the Feb. 1 values. As an exception, the snowpack in the northeastern Oregon mountains increased 11 percent and the southern Clearwater Basin increased 3 percent. The percent of peak index at The Dalles increased from 52 percent to 63 percent. It's uncertain how much of an impact recent heavy snowstorms will have on this year's water supply; however, there's very little chance that the total basin snowpack will approach average this year, NRCS reported. For more information about local conditions, call 575-0135.
(as of March 10)
John Day, North Fork6359
Arbuckle Mountain86 68
Blue Mountain Springs64 58
County Line30 37
John Day above Dayville4950
Starr Ridge 2842
Malheur River 2838
* Snowpack expressed as percentages of 2002 and average.
** Snow-water equivalent, precipitation expressed as
percentages of 2002, average.
SOURCE: Natural Resources Conservation Service