According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Drought monitor, only 9% of Oregon is where it should be for soil moisture numbers for this time of year.  And of that 91% that’s dry, the driest conditions are found in the central part of the state, with a large portion of Crook County under a Exceptional Drought designation.  While snowpacks across the state are well above normal for this time of year, Oregon State Climatologist Larry O’Neill says reservoirs outside the Willamette Valley remain very low.


“Some basins that are in particular trouble are the Crooked and Deschutes River Basin in Central Oregon, where Prineville and Wickiup and Crescent Lake are well below normal for this time of year. And we’re also running well below what we were at this time last year.”


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The Owyhee and Malheur River Basins, he noted, are also dangerously low with reservoirs near empty.  O’Neill said it could lead to another challenging summer of irrigation; unless we get a lot of snow throughout the winter.


“There were a lot of irrigation shortages the last couple of summers, and without a lot of precipitation in the remainder of the water year - or wet season - we anticipate those conditions to be an issue as well, going into next summer.”


Across Oregon, the snow-water equivalent is about 141% of normal, which O’Neill says is a great start to the water year.


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