Idaho’s watersheds are starting out 2013 with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports.
With heavy snow falling in Boise Monday as Gov. Butch Otter gave his State of the State speech, he went off script to celebrate what it means to Idaho farmers and others.
“If God will help us with this in our watersheds he surely will help us here today and throughout this year,” Otter said.
Precipitation since October ranges statewide from 100 to 150 percent of normal, the agency said after conducting its first snow survey of the season at the end of December and in early January.
The agency has changed its reference point to determine what is a normal water year. Starting this year it will use the 30-year period beginning in 1981.
Based on this new normal, mountain snowpacks vary from 80% to 160% of normal, said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist.
Up to this week, elevation has played the critical role in where the snow falls and accumulates. The higher the mountains, the deeper the snowpack.
The Lost River Range and the Pioneer Mountains, which have Idaho’s highest peaks, have the highest snowpack percentages. The lowest elevation watersheds, like the Weiser and Owyhee Basins, also have the lowest snowpacks.
Many Idaho reservoirs are near average with the exception of some in central and southern Idaho.
“There is some water in the bank,” Abramovich said. “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.”
For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff, and water supplies for specific basins, read the entire snowpack and water supply report