Wet and Cold February Boosts Brownlee Inflowsby Staff
Idaho Statesman, March 18, 2004
Precipitation was 192% of normal for the month
February was very good to the Hells Canyon reservoir system, where Idaho Power Co. generates most of its electricity.
Precipitation in the Snake River Basin upstream of Brownlee Reservoir was 192 percent of the 50-year average for the month. Temperatures also were more than 4 degrees below normal, allowing for more snowpack retention.
As a result, that snowpack deepened to normal for the period of October through March 2.
The more snow available, the higher percentage of Idaho Power´s generation comes through its dam turbines, instead of costlier, coal-fired generation or buying energy out of state.
By the end of February, Brownlee was about 64 percent of capacity, or 102 percent of average for the month. The reservoir is the Boise-based utility´s primary water storage facility for the three-reservoir chain in Hells Canyon.
In a normal year, the three reservoirs produce two-thirds of Idaho Power´s electricity.
The 58-mile-long Brownlee Reservoir is expected to reach 2,050 feet above sea level by the end of March for flood control. At that elevation, only the boat ramps at Hewitt Park on the Oregon side and Woodhead Park in Idaho can be used to launch boats.
Overall, the reservoir system upstream from Brownlee in south-central Idaho is 42 percent of capacity, about two-thirds of average.
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