Snow measurements across the state are below normal for this time of year, and water users who depend on streamflow for water are advised to plan for lower than usual supplies. Southern and eastern Oregon are expected to be most affected by low streamflows.
This according to the May Water Supply Outlook Report released by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“During a normal May, about 45 percent of our snow monitoring sites are snow-free. This year, 60 percent are without snow,” said Julie Koeberle, snow survey hydrologist.
Many reservoirs that assist irrigation are storing near average amounts of water for this time of year, which may provide a much needed butter for those who have access.
The month of April was wetter than normal for most of the state. Statewide precipitation was 124 percent of average. Despite this, most of the state has received below average amounts of precipitation this season.
Late winter snowfall rescued the state’s snowpack from record low territory, but it wasn’t enough to improve the water supply outlook.
Governor Kate Brown has officially declared a drought state of emergency for Klamath and Grant Counties, with more counties likely to follow.
The U.S. Drought Monitor has included 40 percent of Oregon in a moderate drought status and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer and drier than normal weather for the next three months.
Detailed interpretations, forecasts and historical data are available on the Water Supply Outlook webpage.
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 online.