So far, above-average snowpack levels in the Salmon River Basin are good news for the 2015 rafting season.
As of Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Idaho water supplies, including those in the Salmon River Basin encompassing most of Idaho County, are off to a good start, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
According to statistics released in the NRCS’s first water supply outlook report for 2015, precipitation since the water year started on Oct. 1, 2014, varies across the state with the majority of the watershed basins at 90 to 105 percent of normal.
In the Salmon River Basin, water year-to-date precipitation is 108 percent of normal, well beyond the 65 percent that was reported last year. NRCS reports the Jan. 1 snow numbers are even better, with the basin as a whole reporting 109 percent of median. The good news is not uniform though, with the middle and south forks of the Salmon River, as well as the Little Salmon River, reporting snowpack measurements roughly 90 percent of normal.
According to the NRCS report, the Middle Fork Salmon and main stem Salmon River are projected slightly above average at 105 percent for the April to September forecast periods. This is good news for the water users, fish, wildlife, and future river lottery winners.
“Jan. 15 marks winter’s half way point which is when Mother Nature usually deposits half of the winter’s snowfall in our mountains,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS water supply specialist.
Typically north Idaho receives more precipitation than southern Idaho; however, the average snowpacks for northern Idaho are below normal. The lowest snowpack percentages are in the Spokane and Northern Panhandle Region. Based on Idaho’s Surface Water Supply Index, water supplies around the state should be adequate with some exceptions for the central Idaho basins. With near normal spring and summer stream flows projected across most of the state, and half the winter still to come, expect the water supply outlook to change.
View the full report online: ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/ ID/snow/webftp/wsor/2015/borid115.pdf .