For our water ... let it snow - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

For our water ... let it snow

Water outlook takes hit with dry January

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 12:00 am

January didn't live up to its end of the bargain when it comes to precipitation and boosting this summer's North Idaho water supply outlook.

So that means February will have to step up to the plate.

January brought only 64 percent of normal precipitation for the month in the Panhandle, according to a report released on Thursday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"If February is dry, the snowpack and streamflow percentages will decrease like they did in January," said Ron Abramovich, NRCS water supply specialist. "That could affect the water supply this summer."

"Most basins started the season with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions. We've learned from the past that we can usually get by with one month of below-normal precipitation, especially after a good start like this year. When we get two dry months in a row, negative impacts on the water supply start to occur."

However, the year-to-date precipitation since Oct. 1 in the Panhandle remains above average, the report states.

As a result of the lower-than-normal precipitation in January, this region's overall snowpack decreased 25 percentage points from 126 percent of normal on Jan. 1 to near normal this month.

Snow in the Spokane Basin decreased about 10 percent from last month and is 84 percent of normal. Snowpack in the Coeur d'Alene Basin is 77 percent of normal.

"Current snow-water contents amounts are similar to last year at this time in the northern Panhandle, but a little less than last year for the Spokane Basin," the report states.

Water levels are 69 percent of average in Lake Coeur d'Alene, 121 percent of average in Lake Pend Oreille and 89 percent in Priest Lake.

Streamflow forecasts are 80 to 88 percent of average for the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene, St. Joe and Spokane rivers.

Forecasts are highest for Priest River at 115 percent of average. Forecasts are near average for the Kootenai, Moyie, and Clark Fork rivers, Boundary Creek and Lake Pend Oreille inflow.

Water officials say the impact of the dry January will depend on what February brings. Good precipitation in November and December are keeping the outlook optimistic for now.

"The key this year will be February and whether or not the dry trend continues," the report states.

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2 comments:

  • Kootenai Charlie posted at 3:20 pm on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    Kootenai Charlie Posts: 4

    We had our wettest year on record in 2012 and the two biggest snow years ever in the past 5 years. Not to mention that we are above average for fallen snow so far this winter. If the water level is down, it is because Avista let too much water out of the dam early in the winter when there was more snow. If we don't get the snow now, we'll probably get plenty of rain in the spring.

     
  • truthful1 posted at 2:00 pm on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    truthful1 Posts: 554

    It's part of the general drought all through the west - climate change is going to kill a lot of the western region over the years. All you have to do is look at the tree die-off from the pine bark beetle between Montana and Colorado to see just how ugly it's going to get.

     
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