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EarthFix

Winter Storms Give Northwest Snowpack an Early Boost

Across Oregon and much of Washington, the snowpack is above normal.

December 20, 2016

Diminished snowpack in recent years contributed to significant drought across the Northwest.

Across Oregon and much of Washington, the snowpack is above normal.

Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the string of winter storms across the Northwest in recent weeks is benefiting the region’s snowpack.

“Year’s past, we’ve had a little bit of a slow start to the snow season. And so, this year we’ve had an early start and it’s benefited the ski areas,” Koeberle said. “It’s been great for recreation.”

Koeberle said the area around Mount Hood is 140 percent of normal. In central Oregon, the snowpack is about 130 percent of normal.

“Snowpack is a frozen reservoir of water that we count on later in the season,” Koeberle said.

Snowpack provides water to rivers in the form of runoff during the summer, which is critical for agriculture, hydro-power and fish habitat.

Diminished snowpack in recent years contributed to significant drought across the Northwest, but 2016 has seen reservoir levels return closer to average.


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