Idaho Snowpack Looking Good, But Concerns Remain
The Idaho snowpack is looking really good for the mid-way portion in the 2022-2023 snow year. Erin Whorton, NRCS Idaho, said most of the basins are at or above normal for this time of year. The only three basins not at average are in the northern portion of the state, where the Northern Panhandle, Spokane, and Clearwater are all below 100% for mid-January.
With these strong showings in the higher elevations, does that mean Idaho’s in the clear when it comes to replenishing area aquifers, and being prepared for the growing season ahead. Whorton said it's just too early to say.
“The fill rate in Jackson, Palisades in the upper Snake system is about on par as last year; we are below last year's storage in that system. Other areas are looking really good like the Boise system is really good, it’s way above average, so setting there's a lot of water sitting up in Anderson Ranch. There's kind of two different situations depending where you are in the state.”
Whorton added several reservoirs in the southern portion of the state, the Salmon Falls and Oakley areas for example, remain very low after a very difficult 2022. She noted those basins along the Idaho/Nevada/Utah state line will need a snowpack well above normal to get the needed water supply this irrigation season.
Whorton added a great snowpack isn’t enough. She says the past two years have stressed the importance of spring precipitation on water supply.
“So last year we had the really wet spring, and that really helped, even though we had a below normal snowpack. And then in water year 2021 we had a pretty good snowpack about normal snowpack on April 1, but then we had such a dry hot spring that irrigation demand started early and it came on pretty hard and water supply was impacted by those conditions. So, it's not just the snowpacks that we're looking at we look at what's coming in the spring and then things like soil moisture and stuff like that to get an overall picture of what the water supply looks like.”
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