PORTLAND, OR -- February's unseasonably cool temperatures eliminated Oregon's snowpack deficit, at least for most of the state. Last month's temperatures averaged 20-degrees below normal, "It was unusual to have cold temperatures sustained that long, and then we had a lot of low-elevation snow," says Julie Koeberle, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). She adds, most of the state is over 100% of normal for this time of year, except for some areas around Mt. Hood, "Overall, it’s measuring 90% of normal, which is still pretty good considering it was 50% just the start of February." The Upper Deschutes and Crooked River Basin is now 112% of normal.
Koeberle says last month's massive snowfall helped ease drought concerns, but it didn't end the problem, "There's still part of the state that has a severe to moderate drought category." She says, "Soils, before the snowpack [was] established, were really dry. So, when it’s time for snowmelt runoff to come, those soils will satisfy that deficit before contributing to runoff." That means the moisture will soak into the ground before contributing to rivers and reservoirs.
Snowpack is important for adequate river levels for fish and irrigation for farmers, later in the year.