BEND, OR -- According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Central Oregon hasn't had a month with normal levels of precipitation since October, and that has them concerned we won't have enough water for the approaching irrigation season.
January was generally warm and dry, and NRCS Hydrologist Julie Koeberle says the overall weather story is complicated. She says the west side of the state is considered very dry, while Eastern Oregon has a near normal snowpack. Central Oregon's snowpack was just 73% of normal, last month, but she says that's better than a year ago, when we were at just 40% of normal. "We are, at least, better, in terms of snowpack over the last year," Koeberle tells KBND News. "The one problem we've seen this year is it's just been drier, overall. And, that's really why the mountains have just not really received the normal amount of precipitation that we normally get for the season."
Central Oregon rivers and streams have some catching up to do before spring, but weekend snow is already helping. As of Monday, Central Oregon snowpack was up to 78% of normal. Koeberle says, "We've kind of got to cross our fingers. And, at least we have this forecast ahead of us for this next week; we're at least going to get some snow and that's going to make a difference and some improvement. It's better than a forecast of what we've been seeing, which is a lot of dry weather." She adds, "It looks very promising to pick up several possibly new feet of snow in the mountains. That would do wonders for the snowpack. We really need to make up for some lost time since we're lagging behind. So, hopefully this will at least see some improvement and make a little bit of difference."