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Spring Outlook Looks Warm For Coastal Northwest, 'Normal' Spring Inland

NOAA Climate Prediction Center
The National Weather Service's outlook calls for above-normal temperatures along the West Coast.

The spring seasonal outlook from the National Weather Service calls for a warmer-than-average spring west of the Cascades and normal temperatures and rainfall across the inland Northwest.

But there's also no let-up in sight for drought conditions in California, and parts of Oregon and southwest Idaho.

The strongest signal to emerge from the Weather Service climate models foreshadows above-normal temperatures along the West Coast.

Jon Gottschalck, a forecaster at the national Climate Prediction Center, says the spring outlook includes little prospect for meaningful drought relief.

"If the drought persists as predicted in the West and Southwest, it will likely result in an active wildfire season, continue to stress crops and livestock due to low water levels and an expansion of water conservation measures are likely."

A freshly updated drought map prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies southwest Idaho and 95 percent of Oregon under moderate to severe drought. On the other hand, the current snowpack in the Northern Cascades and Northern Rockies is at or above normal, boding well for hydropower production and Columbia River basin irrigators.

On Wednesday, Jackson County's Board of Commissioners declared a local drought emergency. The southern Oregon county hopes this leads to a state drought disaster designation, which makes it easier to process temporary water rights transfers or tap groundwater.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.