As of Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Clearwater River Basin is on track with good precipitation levels, according to the first water supply outlook report for the 2016 water year released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Precipitation since the water year started on Oct. 1, 2015, varies across the state with the majority of the watershed basins at 95 to 175 percent of normal.
“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. “So far Idaho snowpacks are off to a great start this year thanks to El Nino. Most basins are between from 110 to 190 percent of average, although several basins are just below normal.”
October through December precipitation across the Clearwater basin was a mixed story, with poor October and November totals aided substantially by a very wet December that provided more than 140 percent of average precipitation. As a whole, the Clearwater basin finished the first quarter at 107 percent of average precipitation, ranging from a low of 104 percent in the North Fork Clearwater to a high of 114 percent in the Lochsa River drainage.
Overall snowpack numbers in the Clearwater basin are right on track at 99 percent of median values, with the NF of the Clearwater trailing at 94 percent of normal, while the Selway leads at 107 percent of normal snowpack. For the Clearwater as a whole both precipitation and snowpack numbers are similar to those observed in 2015 for this point in the water year.
Projected streamflow volumes in the Clearwater show little variability and reflect closely the near average first quarter precipitation and snowpack numbers. The Selway (108 percent) and the Lochsa (104 percent) are forecasted to be slightly above average, and will hopefully provide ample recreational opportunities for the boating community, according to the NRCS report.
Good news for the river lottery winners - the snowpack on the Main Fork Salmon River and Salmon River basins are each about 125 percent of normal while the Selway River basin is 108 percent.
For information on specific basins, streams, and reservoirs, view the full January water supply outlook report online through http://www.nrcs.usda.gov .