Owyhee Basin In Drought As Warm, Dry Weather Continues In Idaho

Feb 16, 2015

So far, February is turning out to be an unusually warm month in southern Idaho. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), temperatures for the first two weeks of the month have been 10 degrees above normal and have included two record-breaking high temperatures.

NWS Boise hydrologist Troy Lindquist says a wet and cooler spring would help the situation, and an early mountain snowmelt makes this year's water picture less sustainable.

"Parts of southern Idaho are definitely in drought. It's a longer-term drought; we've seen it all through last year in southern Idaho," Lindquist says. "Precipitation amounts have been well below normal, when you look at climatology reports over the last year, or even two years."

The hydrologist says when it comes to drought, the picture varies across the state.

"The areas that are in the worst shape as far as the drought goes are in the Owyhee Basin and those users that get their water from the Owyhee Reservoir. So what we really need is some good spring rains in the Owyhee Basin to help get some good inflows and fill into that reservoir system."

The Owyhee Reservoir supplies water to irrigation systems in Idaho along the Oregon border. Last year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Owyhee County a primary natural disaster area because of the drought. 

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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