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Oregon Snowpack Suggests Good Streamflows For Summer


The mountains are seeing significant snow, and slick roads led many Central Oregon districts to close schools Thursday, including Bend.

The mountains are seeing significant snow, and slick roads led many Central Oregon districts to close schools Thursday, including Bend.

Amanda Peacher/OPB

Recent snowfall is setting up Oregon for a summer with plenty of water. But much of the state remains in drought. 

It’s the job of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to track how much water there is — in rivers, in reservoirs and in snow, waiting to melt.  

Last year at this point, Oregon had barely half of its normal snowpack. In 2015, it continued to be so dry that most of eastern Oregon started out 2016 in “extreme drought,” despite big snowstorms in December.  

The most recent snow measurements suggest 2016 will be a very different year. January is 123 percent of normal, statewide.  As a result, the January snowpack report anticipates normal — or even well above normal stream flows — in summer 2016. But it cautions that it’s still very early in the snow season.  

The Harney basin is the furthest ahead of normal, at 186 percent. The Hood, Sandy, and Deschutes basin is at the other end of the spectrum, but it’s still above average. 

The latest report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service comes on the heels of similar findings from the National Weather Service office in Portland.

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