Washington snowpack 137 percent of average

  • Wed Apr 4th, 2012 2:30pm
  • News

By Doug Esser Associated Press

SEATTLE — Plenty of snow in the mountains means it should be a good year for the water supply in Washington.

The mountain snowpack as of April 1 — when it typically peaks — was 137 percent of average, the Natural Resources Conservation Service says.

“It’s fairly unusual,” said Scott Pattee, the water supply specialist who compiles the report at his office in Mount Vernon. “When you’ve got a third more than you normally can, that’s pretty odd.”

All watersheds in the state are above average, thanks to last month’s storms, he said Wednesday.

“March really did it for us,” Pattee said.

One site in the Olympics had 80 inches of snow — nearly 7 feet — in that one month.

The snowpack accounts for 70 percent to 80 percent of the surface water supply in the state, Pattee said. As the snowpack melts, there should be plenty available for drinking water, farm irrigation, hydroelectric power generation, salmon migration, as well as for people who like to go river rafting.

“I would guess for Washington there’s not going to be any problem for water supply whatsoever,” Pattee said.

Washington’s wealth of water is the luck of the weather.

“We are leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else in the country,” Pattee said. “It’s just the way the storm track came in this year.

“Washington, Idaho and most of Montana did pretty well all winter,” he said. “All those storms in January and February just weren’t pushing south.”

The snowpack information is used by reservoir operators, power supply managers, farmers and other planners.

Now that reservoir managers know what’s coming, they’ll be releasing water from dams to make room.

“Dams are going to be cranking a lot of power,” Pattee said.

The snowpack averages for watersheds in Washington:

Spokane region: 110 percent

Upper Columbia: 113

Central Columbia: 114

Lower Columbia: 139

Upper Yakima: 121

Lower Yakima: 144

Walla Walla: 108

Lower Snake: 106

North Puget Sound: 134

Central Puget Sound: 149

South Puget Sound: 127

Olympics: 162