20-02-07 Snow pack 1 WF.jpg (copy)

Following the driest year on record for the Big Wood basin, January snowpack levels are also "well below normal."

Despite a handful of early-January storms, the Wood River basin is experiencing “well below normal” snowpack levels, according to a January water supply outlook report released Monday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho.

Based on 38 years of precipitation data collected by the NRCS, 2020 was the driest water year on record for both the Big and Little Wood basins. As of Jan. 1, snowpack conditions in the Big Wood, Little Wood and Lost basins were between 57 and 82 percent of normal, the agency stated. That’s a step up from December, when precipitation in those basins fell between 30 to 50 percent of normal.

“Hopefully, favorable storm tracks will bring much needed moisture to these basins in the months to come,” the NCRS report stated.

On Jan. 10, the Chocolate Gulch SNOTEL station along the Big Wood River north of Ketchum recorded precipitation totals about 75 percent of normal. Coming snowstorms this month may increase that percentage.

“With nearly three more months of the normal snow accumulation season, and the continued prediction for moderate La Niña conditions, the outlook looks promising for meeting this year’s water supply demands. Historically, La Niña conditions have resulted in increased precipitation across Idaho,” said Erin Whorton, a hydrologist and water supply specialist for NRCS’ Snow Survey in Idaho.

A winter storm advisory remains in effect for central Idaho from 11 a.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. Wednesday, with a mix of rain and snow “making for a sloppy mixture that will lead to hazardous road conditions,” according to the National Weather Service.

Two to 10 inches of snow accumulation in the Ketchum area can be expected, the service stated.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

Load comments