After an unusually cold and dry January, February brought a bounty of snow that made the water outlook a lot brighter throughout Washington.
“We picked up good snow in most places,” said Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
What looked like a “dismal snow year” in January turned around last month, rebuilding mountain snowpack to 108 percent of normal statewide as of early March, Pattee said Monday (March 6).
Precipitation in the mountains was almost 200 percent of normal during February, and records were shattered at many SNOTEL precipitation-monitoring sites early in the month, he said.
The Methow River watershed is at about 100 percent of normal, and snowpack at the Hart’s Pass SNOTEL monitoring site is at 118 percent of normal, Pattee said.
The mountain snowpack that accumulates during the winter provides essential water to sustain agriculture, recreation, fish and wildlife during the rest of the year. Most of the snowpack builds up during December and January, but this year February gave the snowpack a good boost, Pattee said.
“At about 85 percent of the way through the snow season it’s good to still see the most-recent short-term forecast [30 days] has a strong probability for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation,” Pattee said.
“More mountain snow is what we need to at least maintain where we are now and get us into the growing season.”
“Forecasts for spring and summer runoff have increased by 10-20 percentage points, bringing them all to within normal or near-normal ranges,” Pattee said.
The predicted streamflow for the Methow River is 109 percent of normal for April through September, Pattee said.