First 2016 Idaho Snowpack Report: Very Good News for Drought-Stricken Bruneau Basin 

Take a quick look at the new Idaho water supply outlook map and you'll see a fair amount of blue or turquoise in the mountains of Central and Southwest Idaho. That's a good thing. Blue represents 130 percent or more snow water equivalent, compared to the 1981 to 2010 median, and turquoise represents 110 percent-129 percent of the same median.

In other words, El Nino is helping Idaho's snowpack and ultimately its water supply.

According to a recent report from the United States Natural Resources Conservation Service, "This El Nino winter is bringing much needed moisture to most of the state so far. The best snowpacks are across Idaho‚Äôs southern border at 160-190% of normal and the West Central Mountains at 135% of normal."

The NRCS says December's precipitation "was excellent, ranging from one to almost two times normal across the state," but cautions the lowest snowpacks are just below normal in the panhandle region, Clearwater, Upper Snake and Bear River basins.

The best news is in southern Idaho's Owyhee and Bruneau basins, with the drought-ridden Bruneau basin off to its best start since 1997 and its third-highest since 1984.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA

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