WASHINGTON — The final water supply forecast for this year shows the West divided into a wet north and dry south, while snowpack has already melted in much of the region, according to data in a press release from the USDA National Water and Climate Center (NWCC).
Washington, most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the northern parts of Colorado and Utah are expected to have near normal or above normal water supplies through the rest of the summer, according to the forecasts.
Far below normal streamflows are expected for the southern parts of Oregon and Utah, southwestern Idaho, California, Arizona, New Mexico and western Nevada.
Many of these areas are in the nearly 500 counties across the country experiencing drought, 57 of them in California alone, according to USDA disaster designations.
This year saw near-record low snowfall in parts of Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and the southern parts of Utah and Oregon. Even with some May precipitation, those areas remain dry, noted the release.
The biggest change this season was in the Washington Cascades. At the beginning of February the snowpack was about half of normal, but it recovered and most of Washington will have a near normal water supply from snowmelt, according to the Center.
Spring snowmelt is well underway, according to NWCC hydrologist Cara McCarthy. “A lot of our SNOTEL sites have already melted out, especially those in the southern half of the West,” McCarthy said.