At the start of the year, Oregon snowpack levels were abnormally low, raising fears of another tinder-dry summer and wildfires. But after recent heavy snowfall throughout the state, water supply levels are improving.
According to Jan. 21 data from the Oregon Natural Resources Conservation Service, the snow water equivalent in the Willamette Basin is currently 94 percent of normal. That's a drastic increase from the start of the month, when snowpack levels were just 25 percent of normal.
No Oregon county currently has a snow water equivalent of less than 88 percent of normal—with Southeastern Owyhee county being at 118 percent of normal and Lake County at 102 percent.
That's good news for water supply levels as spring approaches, but NRCS hydrologist Scott Oviatt says much of the state is still in drought-range conditions.
"That's mainly due to the fact that rainfall and snowfall levels since October 1 are still lagging behind normal," Oviatt says. "Most areas are still at about two-thirds of normal across the state."
If cool weather persists, and snow continues to fall at high elevations and rain at low, then drought conditions could begin to reverse, Oviatt says. But, he adds, "Every day we have a dry day without rain or snow continues to add to the deficit. The next two to three months will tell the story of how water supply will look in the spring and summer."