Cold, stormy weather has a benefit: deep mountain snowpack
'The fall and early winter precipitation provided relief to many areas that were moisture-depleted following a hot, dry August.'
All the cold weather and snow is paying off. Oregon's snowpack is well above normal for this time of year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service said Monday, Jan. 9, that the statewide snowpack is 124 percent of normal. Snowpack indicates how much water could be available during the spring and summer.
Record October rain provided a much-needed wet start to the water year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 31), according to the conservation service. After the wet autumn came a cold and snowy December, dumping snow in the mountains.
"The snowpack accumulation season has started off well," said Scott Oviatt, NRCS snow survey supervisory hydrologist. "The fall and early winter precipitation have provided relief to many areas that were moisture-depleted following a hot, dry August. If the cool and wet pattern continues through the winter and spring months, then the snowpack accumulation will continue to be normal or above normal, and spring snow melt will occur slowly over an extended period. That was not the case last year, when we observed rapid, record-breaking snowpack melt-out and runoff."
The conservation service measures snowpack at 81 sites around the state.
Even with above-average snowpack, reservoir levels around the state are still below average, a product of the hot, dry summer.