- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Wildly fluctuating April weather sent Oregon’s snowpack up, down and now, in some areas, melted out.

It’s still too early to project water trouble this summer - the return of cool weather could help retain snow or even increase the snowpack a bit - but as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Portland put it, “What a difference three weeks can make.”

At the first of April, everything looked great for irrigators, fish and wildlife managers and others who monitor and care about streamflows and reservoir levels. Heavy snow and rain blanketed Oregon this past winter, and the amount of water contained in the snowpack was at or above normal in nearly every river basin in the state.

But April brought unseasonably warm weather, including a record-high temperature of 85 degrees on April 7, measured at Portland International Airport. By April 22, the amount of water stored in the snowpack, called the snow water equivalent, was well below the 1981-2010 median.

The Deschutes and Malheur regions of central and southeast Oregon measured 11 percent and 31 percent of normal, respectfully. Other river basins measured from 51 to 83 percent of the median for this time of year.

Some NRCS automated monitors show no snow remaining, hydrologist Julie Koeberle said.

“It went fast, because of the warm temperatures,” she said.

Oregon’s snowpacks typically begin to melt in April, but at a slower pace that sustains streams through the hot months.

Koeberle said the NRCS will have a better handle on things within the next couple weeks, as snow survey teams hit the mountains and take a closer look. Sustained cooler temperatures would be helpful, she said.


Information from: Capital Press, https://www.capitalpress.com/washington

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