David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Idaho water managers are still worried about Central Mountain snowpack levels in Idaho.

The latest snowpack numbers in the Sun Valley region are down as much as 35-percent below normal levels on the Lost and Wood River basins.

Overall Idaho snowpack levels are 85-90 percent of normal levels. While Mores Creek summit reported just two feet of snow in December, they gained snowpack but a slow February dropped levels to 75-percent of normal.

Eastern Idaho is in much better shape, most of those snowpack levels are 85-95 percent of normal levels.

The report shows a slow start in mountain snowpacks and then a shift after the first of the year. Since then there were decent storms across the state. But the storms stopped in late February, early March. according to the Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

The NRCS, in their March 1 report said more precipitation would be needed to avoid water shortages, and said snowpack as of March 18 at 70% of normal in the Big Wood and Big Lost river basins, and 68% in the Little Wood River Basin. Despite storms and cool temps, those numbers remain close to those levels. Southern Idaho basins are still building snowpack and have close to normal levels.

Last week's storms boosted snowpack normals by 11-percentage points in Little Wood, 8-percentage points in Big Lost and 3-percent in Big Wood compared to March 9th.

“We’re now looking more like 90 to 100 percent of normal in the North and South as well as the Owyhee basin on the southern border. The Little and Big Lost Basins in Central Idaho are just 60-70 percent of normal,” said Dan Tappa of the NRCS.

Idaho is now in the final stretch of the snowpack year with below normal levels and while the Gem State needs the snow, they don't need it that bad.

“We had lots of carry-over water in every reservoir attached to the Snake River plain. The Boise, the Payette, the Snake, the Wood and Lost systems, Salmon Falls, the Owyhee, all had holdover water and there’s enough storage going into this winter. We have a buffer against shortages going into the irrigation season, But we’ll keep an eye on Central Idaho,” said Tappa.

The NRCS says with all the above-average hold-over water, plus the storm tracks are keeping winter in the Gem State. Through it all, Idaho farmers will still have adequate water this irrigation season.

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