Columbia Basin Snowpack Summary
For the Water Year: 2009
March 1, 2009
The Columbia Basin snowpack charts are produced, using only automated
data. These data are telemetered via remote collection sites in Canada
and the United States. The data are provisional, until they are
officially released by the responsible data collection agency.
Overall, snow conditions in the Columbia Basin just keep getting worse,
with below normal precipitation expected over the next three months. The
combined snowpack above The Dalles is currently at 80 percent of average,
compared to 109 percent last year and 84 percent last month. Nearly all
snow packs decreased from last month, compared to percent of average. The
largest losses to average were the Northern Cascades in Washington, that
dropped 10 percent. The Upper and Southern Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater
snow packs all decreased 8 percent during February. Precipitation was
below normal over the entire Columbia Basin, with the Northern Cascades,
Clearwater, and Salmon basins especially dry. With below normal
precipitation expected for the next three months, prospects for any
improvement in the Columbia Basin snow pack look dismal.
The overall snow pack is at 68 percent of the average peak snow water
equivalent (swe) accumulation. This compares to 93 percent last year. As
a reference, the March 1 snow pack is normally at 85 percent of the peak
swe, which usually occurs around April 1.
The snowpack in the Columbia Basin above Castlegar is at 80 percent of
average. This compares to 108 percent last year and 82 percent last month.
For the basin above Grand Coulee, the snowpack is little better at 81
percent of average, compared to 107 percent last year and 83 percent last
month. The Snake River snowpack above Ice Harbor is at 82 percent of
average, compared to 110 percent last year and 89 percent last month. The
North Cascades snow pack is the lowest at 61 percent of average (down from
71 percent last month), while the snowpack in the Deschutes is the highest
at 90 percent (managing to hold its own through the month of February).
At this point in time, the combination of below normal snow packs and below
normal precipitation expectations for the remainder of the Winter season,
the 2009 water supply potential within the Columbia Basin does not look very
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