BEND, OR -- Central Oregon received record snowfall in February. "It kind of brought the season's worth of snow and precipitation in that one short month to catch up the snowpack to near normal," says Julie Koeberle, Hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. But March was drier than normal, "The Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basins, if you look at all of our weather stations in the area grouped together, it's only 54% of average for the amount of precipitation in March."
While, that decline in precipitation could have caused concern, Koeberle says, "The snowpack, in and around the basin, is really in good shape." On Friday, she told KBND News, "There's a lot of variability, of course, but if you lump all of our sites together in the Upper Deschutes and the Crooked basin today, it's at 107% of normal for snowpack, so in good shape." In fact, due to weekend storms, the Upper Deschutes Basin bumped up to 109% of normal on Monday. However, Koeberle says the long-term forecast calls for a drier than average summer, which could deplete the snowpack too quickly, "A lot of times, when we have these long-term outlooks, you could still get a really cold storm or a really wet storm." She says, if that happens, the region should still have enough water for summer, "When we're talking about a climate outlook that's now calling for warmer and drier conditions for the next three months, you can still get some of these short-term wet storms."
Snowpack is important for maintaining adequate stream flows for fish and reservoir levels for summer irrigation.