Snowpack Melts More Quickly than Usualby Patricia R. McCoy
Capital Press, June 13, 2003
BOISE -- Record high temperatures across Idaho in late May jump-started the annual snowpack melt at high elevations. The result: may Idaho streams reached peak flows on May 31.
By June 6, streamflows were dropping quickly, and high elevations snowpack was essentially melted for the season. that promises irrigators severely restricted water supplies in some areas this summer despite Idaho's wet spring, said Ron Abramovich, water supply specialists with the Natural Resources specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Reservoir drafting will start as inflows decrease below irrigation demand. Most Southern Idaho reservoirs will be at or near their minimum storage levels by summer's end, he said.
Streamflow forecasts for June and July vary. The lowest forecasts are 8 percent of average for the Blackfoot River and Bear River below Stewart Dam. The highest are for from 100 to 133 percent of average for Smith Creek, the Selway, the Lochsa River, the Clearwater River at Spalding, the Salmon River at White Bird, Deadwood River, Lake Fork Payette River, the North Fork of the Payette, and the Little Wood River, he said.
The June 1 streamflow forecast for the Henry's Fork near Rexburg, is only 43 percent of average, Abramovich said.
Reservoir storage also varies across the state. The lowest in the state is Salmon Falls Reservoir. At only 15 percent full, it has its ninth lowest May 31 storage levels since 1922. Palisades Reservoir is expected to fill to only about 60 percent of capacity this season. Jackson Lake and Palisades Reservoir is expected to fill to only about 60 percent of capacity this season. Jackson Lake and Palisades Reservoir have a combined storage of 63 percent full. Blackfoot and Oakley reservoirs are only 25 percent full. Owyhee and Bear Lake reservoirs are 30 percent full, he said.
Near to aboe average storage is projected for the Boise, Payette, Brownlee, Little Wood and Dworshak reservoirs, and for Priest Lake. Magic Reservoir increased from 30 percent full a month ago to 44 percent full at the end of May. Mackay Reservoir increased from 54 percent full to 60 percent full, Abramovich continued.
The latest snowpack and water supply information is available at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow, he said.
The NRCS streamflow and reservoir projections were announced as a series of drought emergency declarations were issued by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. They are now in effect for 12 Idaho counties: Bingham, Blaine, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Lincoln, Madison, Oneida and Power. They will remain effective until Dec. 31, unless extended or terminated by Karl Dreher, IDWR director, state officials said.
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