Panhandle water supply looking good

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SANDPOINT — February precipitation was much higher than average in the Panhandle, but the region still manages to trail water supplies in the rest of the state, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The water supply in the northern Panhandle is forecasted to be between 90 percent and 109 percent of average from April to July. As of March 1, snowpack in the tip of the Panhandle and into northwestern Montana is 94 percent to 99 percent of median, according to NRCS’s report.

“Snowpack in the Panhandle Region is the lowest in the state with respect to normal, but big gains were observed during February, and the snowpack is now about 90 to 100% of median, with more storms predicted in March,” the monthly report said.

Monthly precipitation in February, as a percentage of the 1981 to 2010 average, are 236 percent to 281 percent in the northern Panhandle. Those averages dipped somewhat south of Lake Pend Oreille and in the Clearwater Basin, but skyrocketed in Salmon and Upper Snake river basins, which are more than 300 percent of average in some areas.

Year-to-date precipitation as of March 1 is 131-150 percent of average in the northern Panhandle, the NRCS report states

The storage and streamflow forecasts for Pend Oreille and Priest lakes are 88 percent and 107 percent of average, respectively.

“Streamflow forecasts are near normal, and forecast volumes range from 90 to 115 percent of average in these northern Idaho basins. Water supplies should be adequate based on these March 1 streamflow forecasts,” the NRCS report said.

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