The water supply and snowpack season in North Idaho is off to a promising start, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Above-normal precipitation the past three months has made the water year 143 percent of normal for the entire Panhandle region, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which conducted its first snow survey of the water year at the end of December.
"There is some water in the bank," said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS water supply specialist. "Idaho's reservoirs should be in good shape this year with some stored water and snow in the high country waiting to melt and fill them up."
North Idaho snowpack has increased steadily since early November. Jan. 1 snowpack is 126 percent of normal in the northern Panhandle and 91 percent of normal in the Spokane River Basin.
Mountain snowpacks vary from 80 percent to 160 percent of normal across the state. This year elevation is playing a critical role in where the snow falls and accumulates - the higher the mountains, the better the snowpack.
Pend Oreille, Coeur d'Alene and Priest lakes are all storing more water than at this point last year. Streamflow forecasts range from near normal for the Spokane River and the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River to up to 124 percent of normal for the Moyie River.
Many Idaho reservoirs are near average with the exception of some in central and southern Idaho, the report states.
"After a long, dry summer that recorded minimal valley and mountain precipitation because of the dominating high pressure ridge that stopped storms from tracking into the state, the gates finally opened up," the report states.
NRCS conducts snow surveys at the end of each month from December through May to make snow runoff predictions and water supply forecasts used in managing Idaho's water resources. The water year starts Oct. 1.
For more information about the report, snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supplies for specific basins, visit www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow.