All the snowfall last week and the rest of December may mean Idaho's drought is over..
Jerry Beard, snow conservationist for the U.S. Soil Conservation Survey, said snowpack figures are quite promising as the Jan. 1 snow survey - the first of the season - approaches.Most of southern Idaho had 90 percent or better of normal snowpack as of Friday, and the Upper Snake, Bruneau and Owyhee rivers were at 140 percent of normal, Beard said.
"We're right where we wanted to be," he said. "If this will continue for the next two to three months, we'll be in good shape."
In the fall, as Idaho was reeling from 21/2 years of drought, Beard predicted that snow levels would have to reach 120 percent of normal for reservoirs to fill completely and farmers to receive enough irrigation water.
In normal years, Idaho receives about 40 percent of its snow by Jan. 1. Given forecasts for more snow this weekend and next week, the projected total may be greater by New Year's Day.
"With the storm patterns we're seeing right now, it appears that these outlooks will improve by next week," Beard said. "The weather is unfortunate for travelers, but, given our water supply situation, we'll take snow whenever we can get it."
A steady string of storms in November set a precipitation record of 3 inches in Boise. And, after a three-week dry spell, a westerly storm pattern has returned, delivering more than 18 inches of snow in the high country this week.
Beard said northern Idaho snowpack depths are trailing behind those of southern Idaho, the reverse of the situation the past two years.
He declined to predict how the state would fare during the rest of the winter. "It's looking favorable," he said, "but who knows how long it will last?"