precipitation outlook not good
antsy over empty reservoirs
Express Staff Writer
recently released weather outlook shows Idaho is expected to get below
normal precipitation this fall. For water managers and skiers alike,
that raises red flags.
two below-average years, water users across the southern three-fourths
of the state have been crossing their fingers and hoping for banner
snows this winter. Without at least a good snow year, irrigators of more
than 3 million acres of croplands may face one of the hardest growing
seasons on record, Idaho Department of Water Resources spokesman Dick
Sept. 25 report from the National Weather Service indicates that Idaho
and the Northwest could face extremely dry conditions.
best chances for overall drought improvement extend across the Southwest
and the Great Plains, but the odds tilt toward minimal relief for water
shortages in the Northwest, northern Rockies, and Great Basin, with even
a good chance for drought expansion in the Northwest," according to
large portion of the Northwest is expected to see below-normal
precipitation during the October (through) December period," the
report continued. "Although below-normal rain and snow would not
have significant immediate impacts, deficient snowpack could have
adverse impacts later."
according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís
Climate Prediction Center, Idaho precipitation is predicted to be zero
percent to 10 percent less than average each month through March.
building Pacific El Nino pattern is largely responsible. El Nino occurs
as a result of a periodic warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern
tropical Pacific. El Nino affects weather around the globe, and episodes
occur roughly every four to five years, lasting up to 18 months.
said this yearís reservoir carryover is almost nonexistent, except for
the Payette River drainage in west central Idaho, where Cascade
Reservoir is 58 percent full and Deadwood Reservoir is 33 percent full.
didnít have any extra water going into this year, and itís taken
everything weíve had just to get by," Larson said. "Weíre
right back where we were last year, needing far above average
carryover picture gets worse farther to the east.
Snake River system, including Jackson Lake, Grassy Lake, Lake Walcott
and Palisades, Island Park, Ririe and American Falls reservoirs, was at
15 percent of capacity last week. American Falls, one of the largest
reservoirs in the system, is only 3 percent of capacity, and Palisades,
another of the largest reservoirs, is only 7 percent of capacity.
getting pretty desperate in Eastern Idaho," where the state has
received increasing reports of illegal water diversions, Larson said.
River system, including Anderson Ranch, Arrowrock and Lucky Peak
reservoirs, was at 56 percent of capacity.
problem is that next yearís irrigation season follows several seasons
of drought, so underground water levels, which take several years to
recharge, are expected to retreat further.
Kempthorne declared drought emergencies in 15 counties this summer.
bank is absolutely empty," Larsen said. "Weíre completely
dependent on what we make in snowpack."