For the week of February 10, 1999  thru February 16, 1999  

Snowpack 120 percent of average

More snow expected

Express Staff Writer

Storm after storm the snow falls, burying the mountains in white.

Winter’s accumulations are met with mixed emotions. Skiers delight in repeated powder days and the prospect of a lengthy ski season. Farmers and ranchers are optimistic about irrigation capacities adequate to see them through the summer. Property owners along rivers and streams in the Wood River Valley contemplate the possibility of flooding. And the county’s out-manned armada of snow plows, dump trucks, and front-end loaders struggle to keep up with the forces of nature and winter’s fury.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Big and Little Wood River watersheds currently hover at more than 120 percent of the 30-year average. And with a chain of storms backed-up to Japan poised to make the march across the Pacific Ocean, those percentages are almost sure to increase before winter is over.

As for the possibility of flooding this spring, Gale Roberts, district conservationist, said any time the area gets more than 100 percent of the normal mountain snow pack, there’s always the potential for flooding. It all depends on what happens in the next two months and how fast it warms up this spring, he said.

For more than 60 years, the Blaine Soil Conservation District has measured snow depth and water content in the watersheds within the county, and then used that information to calculate subsequent stream flows and spring run-off potential.

This year the district is introducing the computerized High Tech Snow Reporting program. According to Roberts, the Big Wood River and adjacent watersheds now contain 11 automated SNOTEL sites. Those sites radio current snow, water and weather conditions to a master computer on a daily basis. That information is available to anyone with Internet access.

The following is a list of Internet addresses and paths for some of the sites:

 Access the NRCS Idaho home page at This site contains information other than just snow data.

 To access snow information, click on Technical Resources, then Idaho Snow Survey Page.

 Next, click on Snotel Data and move down to Galena Summit to get the snow depth on Galena Summit that morning.

 For an updated water depth graph of the Lost-Wood Divide (Trail Creek Summit) course, continue scrolling down the page and click on Lost Wood Divide.

 Updated water, snow and precipitation data for all SNOTEL sites in Idaho can be obtained at Idaho Statewide Basin Summary SNOTEL Report. Other western states are available on the same page.

 Many other sites are available for other information, such as the 30-year averages." Contact your local Blaine Soil Conservation District office for assistance with the location of any of these sites.


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