BEND, OR -- This winter’s immense snowfall is starting to show dividends, preparing local reservoirs for the summer irrigation season. "For the Upper Deschutes and Crooked River basins, we’re 143% of normal for snowpack, and we’ve had 130% precipitation for the water year," says Scott Oviatt, with Oregon's Natural Resources Conservation Service. He says it's at 140% of normal, statewide. "That’s setting us up well. We’ve filled our soil profiles to saturated conditions, at this point in time."
Oviatt is optimistic; although, he says even after several feet of snow fell in the past few months, we’re not out of drought danger, yet. "If we recall, last year in April we were near normal for snowpack and we encountered extreme heat." He tells KBND News, "We’re in much better shape than we were last year, by about 40% statewide, as well as in your area. And, with that, in combination with the fact that we have been seeing cooler and wetter conditions throughout the winter, and most forecasters still calling for the wetter conditions at least through the end of the month, that sets us up really well."
He says things should remain positive, as long as things don’t warm up too quickly. "So, if we can have a slow melt-off with retained moisture and still receiving rainfall and snow at the higher elevations through April, that’ll continue and add to our stream flow probability." He adds, "We don’t want to see 70 degrees, down here in the valleys, at least until the end of April, if at all possible. Because, what that means is, we’re about 32 in the mountains in the nighttime hours, and that’s when we really start to lose our snowpack. If we start to lose at 2” of water content a day, then things are really starting to move and we have little time left for sustained stream flows." Oviatt says the long-term forecast, so far, looks promising.