20-03-06 Ketchum Overlook 2 Roland.jpg

Brown hillsides around the Wood River Valley are appearing about a month earlier than usual this year.

The good news: Homeowners in the Wood River Valley won’t have to worry about flooding this spring.

With four SNOTEL stations in the Wood River basin setting record lows for monthly precipitation last month, the basin now has 69 percent of normal snowpack.

“That’s the area of Idaho where we wanted precipitation the most, and we got the least,” said Daniel Tappa, supervisory hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Idaho.

The Chocolate Gulch SNOTEL site, north of Ketchum, received 0.3 inches of precipitation in February, 14 percent of normal.

The Hyndman SNOTEL site, near the head of the East Fork of the Big Wood River, received 0.4 inches of precipitation, 17 percent of normal.

The Swede Peak SNOTEL site, in the southeastern Pioneer Mountains in the Little Wood Basin, received 0.2 inches of precipitation, 7 percent of normal.

The Soldier Ranger Station, north of Fairfield, received 0.1 inches of precipitation, 4 percent of normal.

The Big Lost-Big Wood River divide, on Trail Creek Summit east of Sun Valley, recorded the second lowest amount of February precipitation ever, at 0.7 inches, 21 percent of average.

Galena Summit fared a little better, receiving 2 inches of precipitation, 59 percent of average.

“The Wood and Lost basins have the most concerning water outlook in Idaho,” the NRCS stated in a press release on its March water outlook. “More than anywhere else in Idaho, this region would benefit from a wetter than normal spring. … More abundant precipitation will be needed in order to avoid water shortages.”

The NRCS reported that the good news for water users is that the major reservoirs in the area—Mackay, Little Wood and Magic—are all holding above-normal storage at 134, 145 and 186 percent of average, respectively.

The 10-day weather forecast for the Wood River Valley shows a 70 percent chance of snow Saturday, then snow showers Sunday and Monday, with otherwise mostly clear skies.

Most other areas of the state have about normal snowpacks.

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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