Deepening snowpacks spell improved water outlook for much of Northwest


As spring approaches, snowpacks in the north half of the Western United States are in good shape, but the dry southern half is still hurting.

The snowpack in the Walla Walla River basin was at 85 percent of normal today and year to date precipitation was 4 percent above normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

February’s storms have raised forecasts for Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho and western Montana to near-normal or above normal water supplies. But snowpacks in southern and eastern Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada are still far below normal.

Snowpacks throughout Washington state currently range from a high of 16 percent above normal for the Lower Snake River basin to a low of 76 percent of normal in the Olympics, according to the NRCS.

Although time is running out for snowpack recovery in drier areas, National Water and Climate Center hydrologist Cara McCarthy said she won’t rule it out.

“We might have another miracle March,” she said, referring to late-season snowfall that has occurred in previous years. “During February we saw a dramatic recovery in the western Cascades of Washington.”

Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.


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