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