- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Federal hydrologists say the latest numbers reinforce the forecasts: Rivers and streams throughout Oregon will have flows far below normal this summer due to the meager mountain snowpack.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service released its April surface water outlook on Tuesday.

Precipitation has been at or near normal in most basins, but warm temperatures have left the amount of snow in the mountains at record lows, between 8 percent and 32 percent of average across the state.

That means basins with major reservoirs for storage are expected to do relatively well. The Willamette River at Salem, for example, is predicted to have flows 76 percent of average.

But even they will drop far below normal as the summer wears on, due to low flows in streams feeding the reservoirs.

And basins depending on snowpack for most of their water storage are expected to do poorly. The Silvies River at Burns is forecast to be at 17 percent of average.

The water year started off well, with strong storms, even though they came with warm temperatures. The report says the most significant snowfall came in late December, and if temperatures had remained that cold the rest of the winter, snowpack would be near normal. But January was relatively warm and dry, and the precipitation that has fallen since has been mostly rain. March came in warm and sunny, and left with raw cold and some snow in the Cascades.

As of April 1, 76 percent of snow monitoring sites were at their lowest level on record. Though April 1 normally marks the peak snowpack for the year, more than half the monitoring sites reported bare ground.

The U.S. Drought Monitor puts most of Oregon in drought conditions, with the southeastern corner in extreme drought. Inflow to the Owyhee Reservoir is forecast at 24 percent of average.

Inflows to Upper Klamath Lake, the primary reservoir for the Klamath Reclamation Project straddling the Oregon-California border, are forecast at 39 percent of normal.

In southwestern Oregon, the Rogue River at Gold Hill is forecast to be 69 percent of average.

In central Oregon, the Deschutes River south of Bend is forecast at 79 percent of average.

In northeastern Oregon, the Grande Ronde River at Troy is forecast to be 52 percent of average.

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