New Map Details Idaho's Encouraging Snowpacks

Dec 16, 2015

The NRCS snow water equivalent map for the state of Idaho on December 16, 2015.
Credit Natural Resources Conservation Service

New data from the federal government show the snow season is off to a strong start in most of Idaho.

The latest map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows 14 of the state’s 21 snowpack regions are above average for mid-December. Many are well above average.

Some areas of far southwestern Idaho, which have spent much of the year suffering from severe and extreme drought conditions, are off to the best start. In the Bruneau region along the Nevada border, the snowpack is 187 percent of normal. The parched Owyhee basin is at 145 percent. Much of western and central Idaho are seeing snowpacks 30 to 50 percent above normal.

The Idaho panhandle, though, remains below normal. Snow levels in the Clearwater basin are at 82 percent of normal. The Spokane basin is at 75 percent. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor classifies both as suffering from extreme drought.

Fall precipitation has improved drought conditions in the state. While 91 percent of Idaho continues to suffer from some level of drought, the portion of the state experiencing extreme drought has dropped from 29 percent to eight percent since September.

This winter is considered crucial for replenishing Idaho reservoirs that were hurt by a poor snow season last year. 

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