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JUNE 10, 2010

Cloudy skies brighten summer water supply

   The June Water Supply Outlook Report issued by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shows spring precipitation made a positive change in Idaho’s water supplies. This winter’s lack of snow was predicted to cause water supply deficits across parts of Idaho; however the cool wet spring helped to overcome most shortfalls.

   “The El Niño weather pattern snapped the last week of March and storms since then have brought average or better precipitation,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “These weather changes resulted in an incredible turn-around; we now expect adequate water supplies for most of Idaho’s numerous users.”  

   May precipitation ranged from 115-150 percent of average across the state. Higher elevations even accumulated some snow.  Higher elevation areas in central Idaho and the Upper Snake continued accumulating in snow and have a good snow pack that will provide additional late season melt.

   Smiley Mountain, Meadow Lake and Grand Targhee SNOTEL sites, all above 9,000 feet, just reached their peak snow water content the last few days of May,” Abramovich said.

   Reservoirs across the state also benefited from increased precipitation. Reservoir storage was the bright spot in this year’s water supply outlook, but the wet spring reduced irrigation demand and improved the outlook by stretching this year’s limited water supplies.

   The added spring moisture will benefit reservoir users from irrigators to hydro-power generators and from boaters and river runners to fish and wildlife.

   Despite all the precipitation, stream flows in May were below average. “The melt water isn’t there to feed the streams yet because the cool weather is limiting snowmelt,” Abramovich added.

   Spring rainfall can significantly influence peak stream flows, specifically the rain intensity and consecutive days with rain. For the most current information see the NRCS’s Peak Stream flow Resources page: http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/watersupply/peakflow.html.

   For the complete June Idaho Water Supply Outlook Report, visit www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.