IDAHO CITY -- It looks like Idaho is back on track, when it comes to the water year, and the state should be able to avoid another drought.
However, farmers and irrigators aren't celebrating yet.
Friday, snow surveyors from the USDA trudged up to Mores Creek Summit, east of Idaho City, to measure the snowpack. Their results help figure out just how much water irrigators, recreators and people watering their lawn might be able to expect in the spring and summer.
According to water supply specialist Ron Abramovich, the news is good. We're back on the wet track.
Last year, drought shortened the irrigation season. After a dry January, many irrigators, like Mark Zirschky with Pioneer Irrigation District, were worried growers would have to deal with their second straight year of drought. It's very difficult, especially if they don't have a chance to plan for the short season.
Abramovich says a very wet February helped to turn things around. It was the 4th wettest February since 1961, here in the Boise River Basin, so that's great news for all the water-users.
Normally, Idaho gets five inches of precipitation in February. This February, Idaho got 10 inches. Abramovich says this puts Idaho's water year back on track, but to continue on that track, we need to stay somewhat cold. So, we still want to accumulate the snowpack up through early April, and then let it start warming up to melt the snowpack. If you melt it too early, then you don't have as much later in the summer, and you know our summers are dry. So, let's hope for cool, wet weather going into spring, and then a gradual melt.
It's that unsurety about the temperatures that doesn't have irrigators like Zirschy celebrating, just yet. This is great to see, but I'm not going to plan much more than what we see in the reservoirs right now, because we don't know what the temperatures are going to do.
Abramovich says if it's cold enough, the snowpack can absorb some rain as well. He says, it's only at 33 percent density right now, which means it's not ready to turn into runoff, yet.
Abramovich says they can still use more moisture, but not too much, especially if it's warm. He says back in 1997, Mores Creek Summit got 18 inches in 15 days, which led to flooding.