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Wet March bodes well for local water supply

March was a record breaker with a least two sites in the North Cascades setting new monthly snow water accumulation records.

And that's a good sign for water users during what is expected to be a dry summer.

"March storms dumped a ton of snow and increased basin averages by nearly 60 percent in some cases," said Scott Pattee, a water supply specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"For starting the year with a so-so snowpack we're rounding the final bases with a statewide grand slam," Pattee continued in a snow pack report he provided last week. He notes March saw almost 200 percent of normal total precipitation for the month.

"All areas of the state are caught up or exceeded normal precipitation averages for the water year," Pattee reports.

Snowpack along the east slopes of the Cascades included the Lower Yakima Basin with snowpack more than a third above normal levels for this time of year.

In addition, precipitation in the Lower Yakima River basin is at 114 percent of average, an uptick of nearly 15 percent over average levels for this time of year.

Another key indicator for a good water year for irrigators is the reservoir level. In the Lower Yakima River basin water storage is nearly 20 percent above average capacity for this time of year.

While March brought a boon for the 2012 water year, Pattee says his agency is taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the rest of the spring and summer, though early indicators are that April will be kind to the water supply.

"Weather forecasters are predicting a continuation of below average temperatures for April, however exact precipitation forecasts are still up in the air," Pattee said.

"They are still looking at the possibility of a warm and dry summer, once we get through the next month or two," he added.

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