- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A warm, dry February means Idaho’s mountain snowpack might melt early, according to water experts.

The above-average temperatures have caused the snowpack to “ripen” about a month ahead of schedule, said Ron Abramovich, an Idaho water supply specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He told the Capital Press (https://bit.ly/1M2rFvt) that the snowpack has become more compact and can melt with less energy.

Many basins in Southern and Eastern Idaho had only half their usual amount of snowfall last month, according to Abramovich, but Northern Idaho actually had more February snow than normal.

A string of small storms is in the forecast for March, and Abramovich says that that should bring cooler temperatures and more snow to higher elevations.

“We need one or two more good storms to put the icing on the cake for our water supplies,” he said.

Upper Snake region Bureau of Reclamation water operations manager Mike Beus says there’s plenty of room in the reservoir system to capture early runoff and doesn’t think there will be any challenges with flood. He said the odds of Upper Snake reservoirs filling up are about 50-50.

He said recent rainfall should keep the soil damp and prolong the start of the irrigation system.

“I don’t expect things to come online all at once like last year,” Beus said.

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Information from: The Capital Press (Ore.), https://www.capitalpress.com/washington


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