Water, not so much

running waterAfter the ferocious storms of November and December – especially on the western side of the Northwest but to some extent through much of the east as well – you’re probably thinking that the Northwest’s water picture for the year is secure, if not cause for concern about flooding.

Not so fast. January has been dry, almost region-wide. It turns out that the accumulated precipitation percentage – basically, the amount of water buildup in places like the snowpack that would be normal for this time of year – has fallen substantially from a month ago. That doesn’t mean drought is imminent, but it does mean the Northwest actually could see shortages in some places.

In Washington state, where the accumulation percentages all are still well over norma, there were drops from late December. The Chelan-Entiat-Wentchee system fell from 146% to 126%; Lewis-Cowlitz from 139% to 120%; the Columbia River above Methow from 126% to 114%.

In Oregon the declines were a shade more modest, but they were universal. On the Coast Range, for example, the drop was 126% to 107%; in the Willamette 123% to 112%; in the Lake County area 91% to 75%; in the Malheir River basin 102% to 87%.

In Idaho, where the snowpack was running almost exactly at normal in December, the numbers have fallen a little below: form 126% to 114% in the Clearwater basin (the second-best, after the Pndhandle basins at 117%); 102% to 86% in the Weiser; 112% to 94% in the Payette; 109% to 89% in the Boise River basin; 99% to 82% in the Big Lost; 100% to 86% in the Willow-Blackfoot; 100% to 83% in the Owyhee.

No time to panic, but it is time to keep a little closer watch on the water.

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