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Gem state drought: weak snowpack concerning Idaho hydrologists

“We are right in line with 1992, which was one of the worse drought years in the state."

BOISE, Idaho — Hydrologists hope for rain and snow as drought conditions worsen in parts of Idaho.

According to hydrologists in the Gem State, parts of southern Idaho badly need precipitation, while some portions of northern Idaho's snowpack are on track.

“In January, we thought it was going to be a really good water year; snowpack was above normal or normal across southwest Idaho, but this long-extended dry period is really taking a toll on those expectations,” Troy Lindquist, Service Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Boise said.

The water year - which began Oct. 1 according to Lindquist, was off to a good start. The beginning of January even saw decent snowfall. However, after January, the dry spell took a turn for the worst.

“Last year early spring, we had some record dryness followed by record summer heat," Lindquist said. "It really intensified drought across the region and then things started improving last fall and early this winter, but now we are kind of swinging back to increasing drought across the region."

David Hoekema, a hydrologist with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, said when looking at snowpack measurements form this year, he is worried that Idaho’s drought year could set a record if trends continue.

“We are much lower than we were last year and that year came off pretty rough,” Hoekema said. “We are right in line with 1992, which was one of the worse drought years in the state.”

Hoekema said there is still time to accumulate more snowpack, which would lead to more water for Idaho reservoirs. However, it is crucial that March brings moisture.

“After that, the only way we would see drought recovery would be to have a really wet spring and an unusually cool summer - which that's probably not likely,” Hoekema said.

Hydrologists told KTVB if the drought continues - since it would be the second drought in two back-to-back years, there could be more wildfires and people may need to prepare for water shortages for irrigators and water users.

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