Snow survey reveals adequate water supply

Snowpack Survey

With all the recent snowfall in the mountains, we went on a hike with water experts to check out the snowpack.

Heading out on snowshoes water resource managers get ready for a very important task: taking snowpack measurements at Mores Creek Summit.

During the winter season, these measurements are gathered once a month across the state and this data is vital as we look ahead to summer months.

"It's extremely important, to give farmers and irrigators an idea if they're going to have an adequate irrigation supply or not," said Ron Abramovich, Hydrologist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Today's visit was a lot different from what it looked like last month, snowfall in the last two weeks has been crucial.

"This looked more like a sheet of ice a month ago, the creeks were flowing, now they're all snow covered again so, in February, the precip was still below average only about 60 or 70 percent of normal, but the couple feet that fell really helped us out," said Abramovich.

Special instruments called snow tubes are used to take core samples of the snowpack. It's then weighed to determine how many inches of water are stored in the frozen landscape.

We're currently at 65 percent of normal with an estimated 17 inches of water locked inside, in a normal snowpack year we'd have 27 inches.

Snow water content is typically at its peak around the first of April.

"I’m optimistic that we'll have some more good storms come through and build on the snowpack a little bit more, would love to see 100 percent of average by the first of April, if possible," said Rex Barrie, Boise River Water Master.

But even if we don't reach that 100% mark, experts say it shouldn't be a problem.

"Today, [from]what I can see, we will have a full supply for the 2018 season," said Barrie.

If you compare results to this time last year the snow depth was 98 inches at the Mores Creek site, compared to just 65 inches this year.

Barrie also tells us they've started to release a small amount of water through the Lucky Peak Reservoir to begin filling Lake Lowell.

They hope to have it filled before the start of the irrigation season.

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