YAKIMA, Wash. — In at least one place Monday afternoon, no one was complaining about the weather.
“For an irrigator, snowy weather is great,” explained Scott Revell, manager of the Roza Irrigation District. We could use a lot more of it, he added.
Revell and other water managers gathered at the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s monthly meeting on the status of the Yakima Irrigation Project — the network of reservoirs and diversions that supply water to farmers across the basin.
While most of the state remains classified as experiencing moderate drought conditions, the tone at Monday’s meeting was mostly positive, thanks to the recent snow and the forecast calling for more.
More than a foot of snow fell in parts of the Yakima Valley in recent days and slightly more in the mountains — where the snow accumulating now will eventually melt into the summer supply.
The National Weather Service predicts that over the next few days, storms could dump another couple of feet in the mountains.
But, it’s going to take more than that to catch up after several relatively dry months.
As of Monday, the Yakima Basin still has about 60 percent of the normal snowpack.
Reclamation hydrologist Chris Lynch presented several charts comparing the current water supply with recent drought years, including 2005 and 2001.
The good news, he said, is that the amount of water stored in the reservoirs right now is above average.
“We still continue to need more precipitation and snow, and that will be a big part of how the water supply turns out,” Lynch said. “We’re hoping the weather is turning around.”
He cited 2010 as an exampled of how late-season storms can turn a water supply forecast from drought to plenty. Because the weather is so variable, Reclamation will wait until March to release the first official supply forecast.
“This week’s forecast for sure looks white, so we’re going to hold off on drought talk,” Lynch said.