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NRCS Idaho: This spring has been one of the driest on record

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Natural Resources Conservation Service
BOR Reservoir storage_Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Northwest Region Major Storage Reservoirs in the Upper Snake River Basin_June 2021 copy
US Bureau of Reclamation

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho says this spring has been one of the driest on record, leading to earlier and higher irrigation demand.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources has declared drought emergencies in eight counties in Idaho and more southern counties could follow suit.

NRCS released the Water Supply Outlook Report for June 2021 Friday, and the NRCS snow-monitoring network shows snow remains only at the highest elevation sites across our state.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, about 61% of Idaho land is in drought status compared to 20% one year ago. Drought conditions are expected to persist in counties already experiencing drought this summer, while drought conditions are expected to develop in the Treasure Valley, northern and eastern Idaho.

“Water supply across the state varies depending on local drought intensity, duration, and reservoir carryover storage from last year.,” said Erin Whorton, Hydrologist-Water Supply Specialist for NRCS Snow Survey in Idaho. “Without additional late spring or early summer precipitation, unregulated rivers will be at minimum or near record low flow levels by mid-to-late summer. We anticipate the combination of dry weather conditions, and the early and strong onset of irrigation demand, will cause reservoirs to reach minimal levels and have minimal carryover into water year 2022.”

The one month outlook forecasts below normal precipitation and warmer than average temperatures across Idaho and western Wyoming.

The three month outlook predicts warmer and drier conditions than normal throughout Idaho and the Snake River headwaters.

Near normal to well above normal precipitation occurred throughout the Upper Snake during May except for the Portneuf, which received 31% of normal precipitation. As of June 1, water year total precipitation in the Upper Snake is about 85% of normal. A month of near normal temperatures slowed the rate of snowmelt in the Upper Snake. Snow remains above 8,100 feet; with more snow remaining at higher elevation sites on the eastern side of the Wyoming Range, the Bridger-Teton, and the Yellowstone areas.

You can view the full report HERE.

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