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For the week of Mar. 22 through Mar. 28, 2000

Spring runoff will be less than last year

Express Staff Writer

Two days into spring, the south facing slopes of the Wood River Valley slowly shed their winter snow.

Though La Nina didn’t pack the punch weather forecasters had expected, precipitation over the past couple of months has raised snowpack percentages in the Big and Little Wood River drainages to near normal.

According to Tom Egger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise, the season started off with below-normal precipitation. However, above-normal snowfall through the months of January and February have pushed snowpack depths to near normal.

Egger said snowpack at Galena Summit is at 93 percent of normal.

According to the weather service, the Big Wood River is currently at .89 feet at a flow of 166 cubic feet per second in Hailey, which is about normal for this time of year.

Flood stage for the Big Wood River at the recording station in Hailey is 6 feet, at a flow of 4,000 cfs.

Egger said the spring run-off, which usually peaks the last part of May or first part of June, is forecast to be at 73 percent of normal this year.

At this time last year, the potential for spring flooding ran high in the Wood River Valley. Snowpack in the Big and Little Wood River drainages hovered near 150 percent of normal while water content at Chocolate Gulch stood at over 250 percent of normal.

Gradually warming temperatures, however, brought the snow down from the mountains slowly, resulting in only minor flooding along the Big Wood River.

According to Bruce Lium of Hailey-based American Water Resources, said predicting the possibility of flooding on the dynamic, always changing Big Wood River is a roll of the dice.

However, Lium said that with snowpack percentages already going down this year due to unusually warm temperatures as of late, the chances of flooding this spring are slim.

"My general sense is that unless we get a really hot spring combined with heavy rain and wind, we won’t see any flooding this spring," Lium said.

Egger said the forecast for April through June in south-central Idaho calls for above normal temperatures and precipitation.


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