Snowpack In WA Generally Normal; S. Idaho Much Drier
With about a month left in winter, Washington’s mountain snowpack is close to or above normal levels. Idaho’s situation is a mixed bag.
Throughout much of Washington, the mid-February snowpack level is between 90% and 110% of the historic averages. That’s true in the Yakima, Puget Sound and lower Columbia River basins. The high-water mark is in the Upper Columbia, which is at 118%.
As you go east into eastern Washington and northern Idaho, the percentages fall.
“All basins are below normal for precipitation and snowpack, compared to our 30-year average. Northern Idaho is doing pretty well. It’s really the only area in the state that is predicted to have near normal streamflow," says Erin Whorton, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho.
Whorton says southern Idaho’s snowpack situation is much different, with a low of 63% in the Owyhee Basin in the southwest corner of the state. That’s a particular concern because most of the water used to irrigate crops in southern Idaho comes from snowmelt.
But she says the situation began to improve in late January, when a storm dumped multiple feet of snow in northern California. Whorton says that storm also significantly increased southern Idaho’s snowpack.