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Idaho Snowpack: One of the best snowpack months ever

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Blog on  March 01, 2019

BOISE– After six weeks of record rain and snow across Idaho, record snowpack is still piling up in the mountains.

So much snow that the Monthly Moore’s Creek Snow Survey site was delayed by snowplows that barely made it to the summit.

Hydrologists with the USDA say February's snow survey is good news. At Bad Bear campground just north of Idaho City there’s 64 inches of snow. The average is 38 inches. 

Climbing in elevation to Mores Creek, there’s more than 10 feet of snow, 124 inches of snow. The average is 79 inches.

The all-time record for Mores Creek is 131 inches of snow in 1999. But Today’s measurement was the 4th highest in history and just 7 inches off that all-time high.

"February has been amazing," USDA hydrologist Ron Abramovich said. “It's snowed non-stop since February 2, and the storms keep coming. Currently the Boise Basin has 300-percent of its normal precipitation and there’s still six weeks left in the season!”

Based on the state Surface Water Supply Index, snowpacks are twice of average. “There are no expected water supply shortages expected across 99% of the state, The greatest concern, especially in southern Idaho, is too much snow and how to safely release all that water,” said Abramovich.

Todays snow survey revealed that snowpack numbers are greater at Moore's Creek and Bad Bear than the so-called snowpocalypse of 2017 but water content is the key.

"There's not as much water content as 2017, so thats good news but Im sure when it melts there will be some concern," Abramovich said. “The snow this year is light, dry and fluffy. There's a little less snow in the Boise Basin as a whole from that epic 2017 year but there’s still five weeks of winter in the high country.”

Mores creek is running high because of warmer temperatures and rain. Lucky Peak and other SW Idaho reservoirs are filling up with all the rain.

"How much we get in the next month, or any spring rains as well, too. So that's where we'll see how rapidly the snowpack melts and fills our rivers and reservoirs,” said Abramovich.

Water releases have already started in the Little Wood Basin, and next week the same will happen in the Boise Basin and the Upper Snake River. The Boise River is expected to start rising on March 6.

Snowfall since the water year started on October 1, 2018, is well above average across the state, and a record breaking 360% of average on the Big Wood Basin above Hailey. Sun Valley got a record 100 inches of snow at the resort, just in February, their season total is well over 200 inches of snowfall. Other basins have three times their average.

“Except in the North, and that might be a classic El Nino pattern. Storms are missing up there, but still they’re close to 100-percent of normal levels,” added Abramovich.

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