Map: Elusive winter leaves behind mountain snow deficit

PORTLAND, Ore., April 6, 2018 — As Oregon’s traditional snowmelt season begins, all regions of the state are reporting below normal snowpack. As a result, officials anticipate below normal streamflow across the state–a potential challenge for water users and wildlife.


This according to the April Water Supply Outlook Report released today by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


“Snow and cooler weather in March was not enough to bring snowpack levels up to normal. Mountain snowpacks peaked well below normal this winter at most locations in Oregon,” said Scott Oviatt, snow survey supervisory hydrologist.


Only the rivers closest to the Columbia River are expected to see near normal spring and summer streamflows. Elsewhere in the state, streamflow is projected to be well below normal due to the lack of normal snowpack.


Streamflow forecasts in western and northern basins call for 60-90 percent of normal streamflow. In south and southeastern basins, streamflow forecasts are as low as 30-60 percent of normal.


“Based on reports from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and the Drought Monitor, we anticipate dyer than normal conditions for the next three months,” said Oviatt. “Our best hope is a cool spring that helps to prolong the snow we have further into the season.”


Most of Oregon’s major irrigation reservoirs east of the Cascades are storing near average amounts of water for this time of year. West of the Cascades most reservoirs are slightly below normal.


For water users with access, these reservoirs may act as a buffer against low streamflow. Water users who are not able to take advantage of reservoir storage will likely experience significantly reduced water supplies this summer.


Drought concerns


The Governor declared a drought emergency in Klamath County in March and more counties may follow.


NRCS is offering financial assistance to drought affected agricultural producers in Klamath County. Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to submit an application for assistance at the Klamath Falls NRCS office by April 25.


About snow survey


Detailed interpretations, forecasts and historical data are available in the April Water Supply Outlook Report on the NRCS Oregon website.


NRCS Snow Survey is the federal program that measures snow and provides streamflow forecasts and snowpack data for communities, water managers and recreationalists across the West.


In Oregon, snow measurements are collected from 81 SNOTEL sites, 42 manually measured snow courses, and 26 aerial markers. Water and snowpack information for all SNOTEL sites nationwide is available on the Snow Survey website in a variety of formats. The reports are updated every hour and are available at:


NRCS publishes six monthly Oregon Water Supply Outlook Reports between Jan. 1 and June 1 every year. To regularly receive this information as an email announcement, visit the Oregon NRCS Snow Survey website and click the “email updates” icon to subscribe.