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Early winter snowpack levels are concerning

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Only three weeks into the winter season and our snowpack levels are off to a poor start in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. If you look at the numbers, most water basins within our region are below 70% of normal in southwest Idaho, or below 50% of normal for Southeast Oregon. The only areas that are seeing closer to average snowfall amounts are in the panhandle and parts of eastern Idaho. As a whole, Idaho is roughly 77% of normal, Oregon 42%, the snow water equivalent percent of normal represents the current snow water equivalent found at selected SNOTEL sites in or near the basin compared to the average value for those sites on this day. These values are derived from median snowpack levels ranging from 1981-2010.

Limited snowfall has been devastating for local ski resorts. Most resorts remain limited on available terrain to open up or, in some cases, nearly shutting down altogether until more snow arrives. Looking ahead this week, we do have a few storms that will bring additional snowfall to the region. At this point, neither storm looks very impressive but any additional snowfall is helpful. Models suggest some areas could see up to a foot of new snowfall through Friday at some of the ski resorts. I know it's still early in the winter season and the pattern could still change in favor of healthy mountain snowpack, but we desperately need to build up our supply to meet our water demands in the warmer months.

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