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Mountain snowpack hampered by warm winter

Recent balmy temperatures with highs into the 50s and 60s in some parts of the state, may make for a comfortable winter, but it's causing problems for the mountain snowpack.

That's according to the National Water and Climate Center in Portland, Ore.

The center notes that January has seen mostly near to average precipitation, but above average temperatures are causing the mountain snowpack to suffer.

The snowpack is crucial for water supply in the spring and summer, especially for irrigators in the Lower Valley.

Many of the storm systems have simply stalled in the valley bottoms and have not reached the mountains, the center says. It also notes that what snow the mountains have received is maintaining low levels at best.

The situation is especially bad for elevations below 4,000 feet, such as Snoqualmie Pass, where snow is almost non-existent, according to the National Water and Climate Center.

The center's latest snow and precipitation numbers show concern in that the upper Yakima River basin, for example, has only 74 percent of its average snow water for this time of year.

Statewide, the hardest hit area is the central Puget Sound region, which only has 58 percent of its average snow water for this time of year.

The second hardest hit area is closer to home, as the upper Columbia River basin has 63 percent of its average snow water for this time of year.

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