A series of winter storms has made traveling dicey in parts of the northwest over the past week. But the snow has helped improve the outlook for the region’s water supply this summer.
Each winter, mountains store up moisture that falls in the form of snow. As the weather warms up, the snow melts and becomes water that fills rivers in the summer. It’s an especially important cycle for farmers, who rely on ample stream flows to provide water for their crops and livestock.
But if the winter snow comes as rain instead, the snowpack doesn’t build up. At the beginning of January, Oregon’s snowpack was anemic, at around 25 percent of normal for much of northwest Oregon.
But less than three weeks later, and the outlook has greatly improved. Most of the state’s snow levels are at 85 percent of normal or higher.