Oregon’s 2018 water supply outlook: snowpack below average, but many months remain to catch up
All basins in Oregon are experiencing below to well below normal snowpack but the season is still early, according to the first water supply outlook report of the year released today by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
January 8, 2017 water supply outlook map.“There is much uncertainty in the early water supply forecasts each year,” said Scott Oviatt, Snow Survey supervisory hydrologist. “Although the snowpack and precipitation amounts have been below normal recently, it’s important to remember it’s early in the season, and water users should plan for a wide range of outcomes in terms of water supply.”
For water year precipitation, the majority of the state is lagging behind average. Only parts of northern and northwestern Oregon have experienced normal precipitation. October and November both received near normal amounts of precipitation, while December was the driest month of the current water year. Oregon’s water year is October 1- September 30.
Two significant storm systems bookended the month of December, resulting in rapidly rising rivers. However, the majority of the month was dry, which led to below average December streamflows. Northeastern Oregon had above average streamflows for the month of December.
Surface water supply forecasts for the spring and summer are currently predicting below average conditions due to the current low snowpack and a drier than average December.
The latest information on Oregon’s streamflow forecasts can be found in the January Water Supply Outlook Report available on the NRCS Oregon website.
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 81 SNOTEL sites, 42 manually measured snow courses, and 26 aerial markers. Water and snowpack information for all SNOTEL sites nationwide is available on the Snow Survey website in a variety of formats.