SNOWPACK BUILDS OPTIMISM FOR SUMMER WATER LEVELS

January 31, 2002 11:00 pm
SNOW APLENTY: A skier at Anthony Lakes cuts through snow that's piling up at a healthy clip in the Blue and Wallowa mountains. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
SNOW APLENTY: A skier at Anthony Lakes cuts through snow that's piling up at a healthy clip in the Blue and Wallowa mountains. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

Early Friday morning, early February, its snowing again.

The Grande Ronde Valley saw more snow in January than in the past couple of years, and the trend continues into the second month. Irrigators and other summer water users arent complaining, however, because snow in winter means water in summer.

Im starting to be cautiously optimistic about summer water, said Mike Burton of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, but we have three months to go.

The most recent figures show water content measurements in the mountains around the Grande Ronde Basin running slightly higher than normal, although a few of the higher elevations are close to average. The snow on Mount Howard, at 7,910 feet, measures 101 percent of normal, and at Aneroid Lake, the water content is 104 percent of normal.

Burton has said that often March brings the greatest snow in the higher elevations.

At Wolf Creek, the water content in the snow is 121 percent of normal, and at Beaver Reservoir, its 133 percent all good signs. Basinwide, the water content of snow is 113 percent of normal.

Last year, the basin suffered a drought that brought an early end to irrigation for some water users.

From Observer staff reports