Portland, Ore., Mar. 7, 2018 — Despite late February storm systems, all basins in Oregon are experiencing below-normal snowpack, according to the March Water Supply Outlook Report released by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Unless the state receives significant rainfall and snow in the spring, water shortages are likely this summer in some locations, especially southern and southeastern Oregon.
“While stored reservoir water may provide a stopgap for those with access, water managers are advised to plan carefully, especially in the southern part of the state where snowpack remains below 50% of normal,” said Scott Oviatt, Snow Survey supervisory hydrologist.
Since October, precipitation across the state has followed a similar trend, with northern Oregon basins receiving average to slightly above-average amounts of precipitation and southern Oregon remaining drier than normal for the water year. Accordingly, the drought monitor has outlined a moderate drought category in much of central and southern Oregon. Nevertheless, most major irrigation reservoirs are storing average to above-average amounts of water, which may provide a welcome respite for some water users.
Continuing the trend, most of the state experienced below average streamflow during February, and current forecasts suggest summer streamflow will remain below average.
The latest information on Oregon’s streamflow forecasts can be found in the March Water Supply Outlook Report available on the NRCS Oregon website.
The NRCS Snow Survey is the federal program that measures snow and provides streamflow forecasts and snowpack data for communities, water managers and recreationalists across the West. In Oregon, snow measurements are collected from 81 SNOTEL sites, 42 manually measured snow courses, and 26 aerial markers. Water and snowpack information for all SNOTEL sites nationwide is available on the Snow Survey website in a variety of formats. The reports are updated every hour and are available at: www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/snow.
NRCS publishes six monthly Oregon Water Supply Outlook Reports between Jan. 1 and June 1 every year. To regularly receive this information as an email announcement, visit the Oregon NRCS Snow Survey website and click the “email updates” icon to subscribe.
About Natural Resources Conservation Service: NRCS provides one-on-one, personalized advice on the best solutions to meet the unique conservation and business goals of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners. We help people make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture and improve the health of our air, water, soil and habitat. Read more about our history.