After a few months of a snowpack at of above average, the Washington snowpack is slightly below breakeven as the month of May gets underway. Scott Pattee with NRCS Washington said the drop from very strong numbers in early April is a combination of warming temperatures and a lack of fresh snowfall.

“We were really dry, extremely dry the whole month of April, record dry in fact in a lot of places.  With that, combined with warmer than normal temperatures and a lot of sunshine, we saw, I think an abnormal amount of sunshine last month, and that’s really what gets the snow melting and rolling off the hills.”

Pattee added unless a basin has a reservoir system to catch that water running off, some basins will face uncertainty as the year continues. Current basin totals across Washington look like this:

  • The Lower Snake/Walla Walla 65% of average
  • The Lower Yakima 55% of average
  • The Klickitat 92% of average
  • The Naches 96% of average
  • The Upper Yakima 116% of average
  • The Central Columbia 102% of average
  • The Upper Columbia 101% of average
  • The Lower Pend Oreille 66% of average
  • The Spokane 71% of average
  • The North Puget Sound 101% of average
  • The Central Puget Sound 138% of average
  • The South Puget Sound 118% of average
  • The Lower Columbia 116% of average
  • The Olympic 129% of average

Pattee added while the rapid melt off of the snow is a concern, that’s not the only issue with the heat of the year weeks away.

“The lack of rain that we’ve seen, especially in the dryland areas of the state, you know it was just record dry across the southern-tier of Washington last month, with almost zero perception received.  In areas like the Palouse.”

With temperatures expected to warm as the month continues, Pattee said conservation will become even more important for the Washington Ag industry.

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