With serious snowpack deficiencies looming throughout Oregon and other Western states, a series of snowstorms in the Wallowas last weekend brought the snow water equivalent reading up to 79 percent of normal at Aneroid Lake No. 2, the only working Snotel site in Wallowa County, as of Monday.
With the Mount Howard site not functioning properly it is still difficult to determine the level of snowpack up in the wilderness area of the Wallowa Mountains. Snow water equivalent is thought to give the truest reading of snowpack, and that is the reading not operating on Mount Howard's 7,900 ft. elevation site.
The second reading, total precipitation, is still functioning and reading at 96 percent of normal. Whereas the normal total precipitation reading for Monday's date is 24.5 inches, Mount Howard was listed at a reading of 23.4 inches.
The other Wallowa County Snotel site is at the 7,300 ft. elevation Aneroid Lake No. 2 site, where 79 percent snow water equivalent reading as of Monday was 79 percent of normal. With the 30 year norm reading at 22.5 inches, Aneroid Lake No. 2 was reading 17.8 inches on Monday. This was 2 percentage points above the Grande Ronde, Powder, Burnt, Imnaha basinwide average of 77 percent.
Better news was the total precipitation level at Aneroid Lake No. 2 which was at 92 percent of normal as of Monday, March 10. A normal reading of 27.1 inches exceeded Monday's reading of 24.8 inches. The basinwide average was at 85 percent.
It is anticipated that personnel from the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be physically on Mount Howard in early April and attempt to repair the malfunctioning Snotel site.