Early February storms brought much-needed snowpack to northern Idaho.
In their monthly SNOTEL report, Water Supply Specialist Ron Abramovich of the Natural Resource Conservation Service said January snowfall was hit-or-miss in much of Idaho. However, storm systems in early February brought much-needed snowpack to much of southern Idaho, while shoring up below-average levels in northern Idaho.
According to the report released Feb. 1, Idaho experienced a relatively warm month for most of January. While snow continued to fall in high elevations, most of the state remained warm enough to see rainfall at mid- to low-elevations.
The lack of cold weather was worsened by a high-pressure system which brought clear, warm days late in January. Ironically, the same high-pressure system pushed cold, snowy weather down from Canada into the eastern United States.
“Luckily, it only took a few storms to push the ridge out and open the gates for storms to track into Idaho in early February,” Mr. Abramovich said.
Central and southern Idaho saw the biggest gains from this early-February storm. The Panhandle region, meanwhile, saw little change. January was unusually dry for northern Idaho, receiving only 50 percent of the average level of precipitation.
Since the start of February, high-elevation snowpack jumped approximately 85 percent of normal, receiving a 4 percent boost in two weeks. While reservoir levels in the entire region are near normal at 104 percent of average, Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d’Alene were significantly below normal.
Mr. Abramovich said the current forecast shows streamflows will be near normal for summer, at around 80 percent of average. Further storms through April 1 will be necessary to provide enough water through the season, however.
“Water supplies should be adequate, but more snowfall is needed in the next few months,” he said.