Above average snowpack hints at longer floating, boating seasons

MORES CREEK SUMMIT, Idaho (KBOI) - With warmer weather settling in, hydrologists are taking one last look at snowpack levels for the Boise Basin before the snow melts away.

Current snow levels will be key in determining how much runoff flows into local reservoirs and rivers this summer. Unlike last year, experts say snow levels are above average after Wednesday's May 1 reading.

Hydrologist Ron Abramovich said there is still roughly six feet of snow at Mores Creek Summit

"Compared to the way we started this year we're in pretty good shape," Abramovich said.

Abramovich said he's happy to see so much snow, because January snowpack levels hinted at another disastrous water year,

"There were a lot of concerns about how it was going to end up," he said. "But on February 1, 2014 is when the gate opened and storms started coming in. They didn't stop until early April basically. That's just what we needed to get our annual snowfall in the mountains."

Hydrologists come up to Mores Creek once every month to measure the snowpack levels. They stick a snow tube down into the ground to get a core sample and measure the snow depth. Then, they measure the weight of the snow tube once snow is in it to figure out how much water is actually in the snow.

Abramovich and his team do this at five different testing sites in the area, and then compute the average to get their official reading.

This year, the numbers show snowpack levels are above average for the Boise Basin. Mores Creek is at 124% of normal, and the entire Boise basin is at 116% of normal. It also means there will be nearly three times more snow melt flowing from this area into the Boise Basin than there was last year, which translates into good news for recreationalists.

"Reservoirs are going to fill or come close to filling and so the power boaters will be able to keep their boats on the water longer this year and for floaters through town we'll have plenty of water to float on through the Boise River," Abramovich said.

Water supply specialists believe above-average snow levels should help compensate for last year's dry winter. Wednesday's reading showed there is still six feet of snow at Mores Creek Summit, which equates to 30 inches of water. Average is 24 inches of water, and last year, only 7.3 inches of water traveled into reservoirs. That was only about 50% of normal runoff.

"What it really means is this is great for our basin right here, but for the rest of the state we're not out of the woods yet," Abramovich said. "We're still seeing the lingering impacts of last year's drought, so what we need is several good years in a row to really make a difference."

Experts also believe snow levels in the Boise Basin should give Treasure Valley farmers enough water for their crops this year, and may even leave them with a little left for next year.