Snowpack

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

Consecutive years of low snowpack might become more common in the Western United States. That’s according to a study out Thursday from the University of Idaho.

 

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise river will be rising in the next few days as water managers react to recent spring rains.

Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association

In January, Idaho river outfitters were a bit worried about a lack of good snowpack. After February’s monster storms, they’ve gone from troubled to overjoyed.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

More water will start flowing through the Boise River this week as officials work to keep the risk of flooding as low as possible.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service measures mountain snowpack. Last week, we reported on below-normal levels in the Boise Basin. That was right before the agency's hydrologists went up to Mores Creek Summit near Idaho City to gather data, and right before snow storms came to the region.

 


Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

For the second year in a row, Idaho farmers will have ample water to keep their fields watered this season.

 


Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Federal water managers will increase the flow in the Boise River, again, Monday.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Federal agencies that govern the Boise River plan to increase the amount of water flowing downstream Wednesday. But experts do not expect a repeat of the dramatic flooding seen last year.

MotoWebMistress / Flickr Creative Commons

Those early March snowstorms did a lot to keep Idaho mountains blanketed, helping to make up the difference for low snow levels earlier this year. According to Ron Abramovich with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Idaho farmers are in good shape.

Alexey Kljatov / Flickr

A new study from Oregon State University finds snowpack is in decline across the West.

forest, trees, snow
U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region / Flickr Creative Commons

As Bogus Basin fans might have realized, it hasn’t been a great snow year for the area so far, but that’s not necessarily the case for the rest of the state.

Climate March
Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

This past winter Southern Idaho experienced one of its snowiest and coldest on record. So we can’t be blamed for wanting to look ahead into the summer. But one organization wants us to look back again.

Boise River, Flooding
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Boise River levels will be on the rise again next week. Officials  with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation hope that by increasing it from 8,900 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 9,500 now, they can reduce the risk of more severe flooding later this spring.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

For the first time since 2011, the Pacific Northwest isn't showing any signs of drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that Oregon, Washington and Idaho are free from drought worries.

Kathie Dello, deputy director of Oregon's climate office, says the Northwest saw lots of precipitation during the water year that began in October.

She says snow and rain came earlier and stayed later. Typically drier months such as October, February, March and April were wetter than usual across the region.

Boise Police Department / Twitter

Much of the Greenbelt is closed and underwater, due to flooding on the Boise River. But eventually, the water will recede, leaving much of the 25 miles of pathway damaged or destroyed. But Boise has a plan once the river slows down.

In many places, the Greenbelt has been totally washed out by the river, which is well above flood stage. And City of Boise Spokesman Mike Journee says there’s more damage below the surface of the path.

Boise Police Department / Twitter

Idaho Governor Butch Otter says residents facing possible springtime flooding aren't taking seriously what he calls a potential disaster.

Otter made a plea Wednesday for people to pay closer attention to the situation on the flooded Boise River.

“We’ve got to get the word out that this is a disaster waiting to happen. We don’t need people to add to it by getting on the river or getting on the river banks,” said Otter.

Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

As dam officials bump up the water flow on the Boise River yet again this week, it’s a good time to take a look at the numbers that matter during this flooding event.

This week, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to raise the water level at the Glenwood Bridge to 8,500 cubic feet per second. As of Wednesday, crews were pushing 9,240 cfs of water out of Lucky Peak Dam. Gina Baltrusch with the Walla Walla District of the Corps says about 1,000 cfs is being diverted into irrigation canals and the rest is flowing down the Boise.

NMID

Water will start flowing through Boise’s irrigation canals starting next Monday. The Treasure Valley’s largest irrigation district says they expect to have plenty of water this season.

For 112 years, the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District has been providing irrigation water to the Treasure Valley. Next week’s launch of the irrigation season will be the 113th consecutive year for the District.

Flooding is continuing to affect communities in southern and eastern Idaho as warm weather melts significant snowpack in lower elevations.

More than a third of Idaho's 44 counties have declared disaster areas, including Bingham and Caribou. Temperatures cooled on Friday and through the weekend, offering some respite from the runoff, but many communities are already dealing with significant flooding and ice jams.

Bear Lake County officials have also considered signing a disaster declaration due to some flooded basements and fields.

Paul Moody / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho has so much snow that water is already being released from some reservoirs for flood control and Idaho Power has halted most of its cloud-seeding operations.

"It's just an amazing year," said Ron Abramovich, a water supply specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. "I don't think anybody is talking about shortages this year."

USDA

A new federal report shows snowpack levels and water supply projections are above average in the mountains of eastern Idaho and across much of the state.

The Post Register reports the Natural Resource Conservation Service released a study Tuesday showing that eastern Idaho and western Wyoming had among the highest snowpack percentages in the state. The report covered October to Jan. 1.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

The far western United States set records for low snowpack levels in 2015, and a new report blames high temperatures rather than low precipitation levels.

The new study suggests greenhouse gases were a major contributor to the high temperatures. The study was published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Phil Morrisey / National Resources Conservation Service

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) relies on data from mountain measuring tools known as SNOTEL sites to forecast how much water Idaho will have each year. This information helps farmers determine which crops to grow (a drier year means they may choose less water-intensive crops) and gives water managers data to plan for flood control. Recreationists use the data to figure out the wildest rivers to ride in the summer.

Bogus Basin Recreation Area

Idaho water managers say they will step up funding for a cloud seeding program that's already been credited with increasing the state's mountain snowpack.

The Capital Press reports that the Idaho Power Co. program releases silver iodine into the atmosphere, which helps ice form in the clouds and increases precipitation.

The cloud seeding began in 2003. Idaho Power estimates that the extra snowpack creates an average of 800,000 acre-feet of water, roughly the volume of the American Falls Reservoir. It generates enough hydro-power to supply 17,000 homes.

National Interagency Fire Center

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released its latest fire predictions for 2016.

Wildfire officials say southern Idaho could see above normal fire activity in July and August, while El Nino rains and warmer temperatures in the late spring and early summer could lead to lots of fuels. Lush grasses in May and June should dry by July, increasing the potential for rangeland wildfires. 

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