MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- January rains across the state made big changes to the robust snowpack measured early last month, reducing snow cover and snow depths throughout the state. The latest information on Oregon’s snowpack and streamflow forecasts can be found in the Water Supply Outlook Report released last week by the Natural Recourses and Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Deeper snow levels in the higher elevations were able to absorb much of the rainfall, effectively gaining snow water content,” said Sheila Strachan, a hydrologist with the NRCS Oregon state office Snow Survey team. “However, the shallower snowpack in lower elevations suffered high losses of both snow and water content.”
According to the NRCS report, the February 1st, statewide snowpack, measured by remote automated snowpack telemetry (SNOTEL) sites throughout the state, was 79 percent of average, a decrease from 131 percent of average reported on January 1st.
“We had a great start to the water year accumulating above average snowfall and precipitation,” said Jon Lea, the NRCS Oregon Snow Survey Supervisor. “Despite the recent decline in the snowpack, water supply forecasts remain near normal for most of Oregon.”
The NRCS Snow Survey is the federal program that measures snow and provides streamflow forecasts and snowpack data for communities, water managers and recreationalists across the West. In Oregon, snow measurements are collected from 77 SNOTEL sites, 42 manually measured snow courses, and 26 aerial markers.
Typically 60-70 percent of Oregon’s snowpack is on the ground by February 1st, so there is still time in the season for the forecasts to change, Lea noted.
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