Western Snowpack Improvement
Farmers and ranchers in the west are wondering if 2020 will offer enough water.
That's because this winter has not been wet enough for many states, so far. Recently, a series of storms may help improve that, but as the USDA's Brad Rippey explains, more is needed...
Heavy precipitation, including mountain show, fell in many of the higher elevation portions of the West this week, with the exception of the Sierra Nevada and mountainous regions of Arizona and New Mexico. Cooler than normal temperatures prevailed in southwest Colorado and eastern Utah and adjacent parts of Arizona and New Mexico, while near or above normal temperatures were commonplace elsewhere in the West. In the Four Corners region, recent precipitation in higher elevation areas improved conditions, such that severe drought lessened to moderate drought around the Chuska Mountains. Lower elevation areas, however, are still suffering from severe precipitation deficits due to the paltry rainfall from the 2019 North American monsoon, and severe drought conditions remained in some of the lower elevation portions of the Four Corners region. Moderate to large snow packs in the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Ranges in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado led to improvement from severe to moderate drought in the high country, though the San Luis Valley and other lower elevation areas in southern and western Colorado and northern New Mexico remained in severe drought. In the Pacific Northwest, large precipitation amounts, including mountain snow, improved conditions in some of western Washington, leading to the removal of moderate drought around Puget Sound and in southwest Washington. Farther east, mountain snows also occurred in northern Idaho and western Montana, as well as eastern Idaho and the Wyoming, Teton, and Wind River ranges of western Wyoming. Conditions improved as a result of this precipitation in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. Moderate drought coverage also lessened in the Idaho Panhandle as a result of this heavy precipitation. Meanwhile, short-term moderate drought expanded in coverage in central Idaho, where recent precipitation was not enough to curtail short-term precipitation shortages and snow pack deficits.