Recent storms through the Pacific Northwest are easing four years of drought in Washington and Oregon.
The snowy, cold weather that barreled into the Western United States a week before Christmas has built up a substantial snow base in the Cascade Mountains that could fill reservoirs when it melts this spring, agriculture officials said."The Yakima River basin was just barely getting by on irrigation water in the past few years," said William Weller, a Spokane-based water supply specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It appears this year they will be in real good shape."
But the weather has done little to alleviate California's equally long drought.
"Mostly, we had frost," said Emil Loe with the marketing division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. "If it did anything, it made things worse, because frost dries everything out a lot. There really was no measurable impact on the drought from last week's weather here."
The melting snow has helped restock the Northwest's much-depleted water supply, but Barry Norris, engineer for the Oregon Water Resources Department, said the state has yet to recover fully from its dry spell.
"We need a good wet January and February, too," Norris said. "We need a couple of better than average years to fill the reservoirs, get the soil moisture back in good shape and get our river levels back up. We've gone through a dry cycle."