Idaho's Snowpack Faring Better Than California; But Precipitation Needed


By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) The California governor asked residents to cut back on at least 20% of water usage because of the lack of rain and just like the Golden State, Idaho has seen a consistent dry spell for weeks.

Local experts feel if the high pressure ridge continues to be strong, Idaho won't be much better off than California.

General Manager Brian Olmstead explains, "the last I looked at the snowpack, California is at 25% snowpack."

Brian Olmstead is the General Manager of the Twin Falls Canal Company.

Olmstead tells us while most of Idaho is reporting 60% snowpack, the Upper Snake which services the Twin Falls Canal Company and most of the Magic Valley is between 90-95%, which is the best in the state and possibly the west.

"With that being said, we were about 120% 3 or 4 weeks, so we've been in a 3 week dry spell and it looks pretty persistent," says Olmstead.

He explains the snow accumulation season is about half over, but the concern starts to really set in towards the end of February. He's hoping for a little help from Mother Nature.

"So if this dry spell would end in another week or 10 days, we could catch up and have a normal snowpack or maybe above normal. Really, what the bureau is saying we need 120% to fill the Upper Snake Reservoir System so that's what I'm hoping for."

Olmstead warned farmers last fall regarding the reservoir system being low. He recommended planting small grains and short season crops "because it's late summer that the possible shortage could happen. If we use our shortage too early and run out too soon then we'll real low on water in summer and that makes it tough for potatoes, corn, alfalfa those long season crops."

Some of the area ranchers are concerned if fire season peaks the feed may go quickly for those cows who can't move onto the range.

Olmstead is headed to Boise Tuesday for the Idaho Water Users meeting. He'll get water updates and hear from other canal companies.

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