According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s April Oregon report, a cool, wet start to April has maintained, and in some places even slightly increased the Wallowa Mountain’ snowpack.
Snowpack remains at 130% on average across the Imnaha, Powder, Burnt, and Grande Ronde River basins. The Lake County and Goose Lake basins hold the state title with 172% of the 30-year average. We can blame this bounty of snow on record-breaking February storms, according to the NRCS. By contrast, March has brought only 68% of its normal precipitation.
Although high elevation snow is melting, this year’s average snowpack for early April remains above the overall average, although the depth of snow at Aneroid Lake decreased from 75 inches on March 29 to 66 inches on April 7, that is still sitting at 106% of the average for this date. Aneroid and Mount Howard have picked up several inches of snow in the last few days. Snowpack at both sites, and the Wallowas, typically peak in April. The NRCS report indicates that “…these sites have not likely reached their seasonal peak yet.”
The NRCS streamflow forecasts for our area are bullish for this summer. “The April through September streamflow forecasts in the basin range from 107% to 131% of average.... Water managers should expect above normal to well above normal streamflows this spring and summer.”
The full Oregon Basin Outlook report for April can be downloaded from the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/or/snow/.