Despite recent snowfall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System reported “extreme” drought conditions across northern Blaine County last Tuesday, indicating the possibility of a drier spring with below-normal runoff.
The drought impact area forms a circular patch from Sun Valley northeast to Trail Creek Summit, according to the NOAA map.
On Tuesday, four local SNOTEL stations showed that the Wood River Valley was experiencing around 88% of normal snowpack levels.
The snow-water equivalent—or the theoretical depth of water that would result from melted snowpack—was listed as 9 inches at the Chocolate Gulch SNOTEL site north of Ketchum, or 93% of normal, on Tuesday. The Hyndman SNOTEL site along the East Fork of the Big Wood River recorded a snow-water equivalent of 7.8 inches, or 88% of normal, and two SNOTEL sites near Galena Summit recorded 9.6 and 12.1 inches, or 80 and 91% of normal, respectively.
Additional snowfall in the Sun Valley area this week could help offset the region’s dryer-than-usual conditions.
“More heavy snow is in the forecast next weekend, but it’s expected to be an atmospheric river system bringing tropical moisture,” said Steve Stuebner, Idaho forecaster for the website Daily Snow. “That could mean rising snow levels by Friday as well. We will see how it plays out.”
On Monday night, the Galena Summit area picked up an additional 2-4 inches, according to a Sawtooth Avalanche Center report. The surrounding western and northern mountains picked up an additional 3-6 inches of snow overnight, the center said, and the mountains above the Wood River Valley picked up 1-2 inches.