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Idaho snowpack improves

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Video on  January 27, 2020

BOISE—After a week of snowfall in the mountains and heavy rain in the valleys, Idaho is still below normal mountain snowpack levels.

“So we had a slow start in the mountain snowpack building process, and then it all shifted on New Years. We had a decent storm move through and it hit the entire state. Prior to that storm, we were 50-60 percent of normal, with the exceptions of the far North and far South parts of the State,” said Hydrologist Dan Tappa of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

With weekend storms there's more good news, river basins along the state’s southern and northern borders have above-normal snowpack, according to Tappa. And Snowpacks ranged from 95 to 117 percent of normal snowpack along the Upper Snake River basin, and 69 to 99 percent of normal snowpack in central, western and northern regions.

And thanks to the storms the tide is changing in Idaho.

“We are now looking at 90 to 100 percent of normal across the state. With the exception of the north where snowpack stands at 120 percent of normal as well as the Owyhee basin. Two other exceptions are the Little and Big Lost Basings in Central Idaho where they are 70-75 percent of normal and that below what we have seen in that area the past 3-4 years,” said Tappa.

Idaho now enters the halfway mark in the snowpack year and the Gem State needs the snow, but not that bad.

“We went into the fall with a lot of carry-over water in virtually every reservoir attached to the Snake River plain. The Boise, the Payette, the Snake, the Wood, Lost systems, Salmon Falls, and the Owyhee all have holdover water this winter. So we have a buffer against shortages going into the irrigation season,” said Tappa.

Over the past three years, February, March, and April have been the biggest snowpack months. Last year according to survey records, the Boise system had the biggest February on record.

Tappa says with all the above-average hold-over water, plus the series of storm tracks, that Idaho farmers will have plenty of water this irrigation season.


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