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Hood, Sandy, Lower Deschutes region sees recovery after three years of statewide drought.

While the climate conditions Western Oregon see this winter are still unknown, for now, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said he's happy with the current water year in the Hood, Sandy, Lower Deschutes region.

COURTESY PHOTO: NICK STEELE, NRCS OREGON SNOW SURVEY HYDROLOGIST - A hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service samples snow at the Mount Hood Test SNOTEL Site in December 2021. A wet and cool spring means Western Oregon heads into summer with plenty of water, which much of the rest of the Western United States is in a drought.After three years of a statewide drought in Oregon, many Northern parts of the state are experiencing recovery and a drought-free summer., said Scott Oviatt, hydrologist with the service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"At this point there's no real concern because we had such a gangbusters spring in terms of precipitation," Oviatt said, speaking before this week's heat wave. "It recharged the stream flows and those two warmer days didn't really affect things."

This time last year, the Hood region was the one fortunate area with a positive water year-to-date precipitation measurement of 91% of median. This year, most regions are in the green or better, and Hood was still at 112% of median as of July 14, regardless of the few above 90-degree days prior to this week.

Southern Oregon, as is typical, is somewhat worse off. That said, the lowest precipitation value in the state as of July 14 was still 85% in the Lake County-Goose Lake region, and Oviatt said 32% of the state is still in extreme or exceptional drought.

"We don't expect those values to change this time of year because we don't account for much precipitation in summer anyway," Oviatt said.

Oviatt explained that this year's good conditions in Northern Oregon can be attributed to weather coming at the right time.

"Last year, we had that late winter storm, then the drought started in March," Oviatt said. "This year, we stayed cool and kept getting high-elevation snow and low-elevation rain, and now there is zero drought (in the Hood region)."

While things are looking up for the Hood, Sandy, Lower Deschutes area, Oviatt said small actions like minding your water consumption are still "just good practice for everyone."

"Being proactive and practical with your usage is still a good idea," he added.

The water year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, and for this year, Oviatt said "we're in good shape."

However, no one knows what the latter months of the calendar year will bring as a new water year starts.

Plenty of water

The Hood, Sandy, Lower Deschutes Region, as defined by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, includes lands between the Cascade Range to the east and Coast Range to the west, and stretches to Oregon's borders with Washington and California.


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