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Water Supply Rebounds Across Most of Northwest After March Storms

Northwest River Forecast Center
On this map of current snow conditions, blues and greens are good. Red, orange and yellow represent below average snowpack.

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest according to the latest regional water supply forecast.

First, the good news: After a slow start to the water year, key Columbia and Snake River drainages are now caught up or even above normal.

"Where we had high amounts of snow last month, we have it this month," says Portland-based hydrologist Joanne Salerno. "That is particularly along the Rockies, Bitterroot Mountains and Upper Snake area."

Salerno says this bodes well for farmers, electricity production, navigation and fish migration. On the other hand, she says areas that have been very dry, are still dry. That includes drought stricken southwest Idaho and southern Oregon.

The National Weather Service boosted the spring runoff forecast past Grand Coulee Dam to 104 percent of normal. Lower down the Columbia River at The Dalles Dam, the forecast runoff is 103 percent of normal. Southern Oregon's Rogue River is worst off of our major water arteries with runoff volume projected at around 70 percent of normal.

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.