Early Snowpack Melt Affects Idaho, Other Western States

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Across the western United States, snowpack is at record lows and melting faster than in years past. - UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Across the western United States, snowpack is at record lows and melting faster than in years past.
Southwestern Idaho had a drier-than-normal winter and now, the United States Department of Agriculture warns snowpack across the western United States is melting early this year.

Peak snowpack usually occurs around April 1 but this year, there was little precipitation in March and according to a USDA report, what little snow fell between 2014 and early 2015 is melting faster than normal.

"Almost all of the West Coast continues to have record low snowpack. March was warm and dry in most of the West; as a result, snow is melting earlier than usual," Natural Resources Conservation Service Hydrologist David Garen wrote in the report. 

Early melting may contribute to the west's already-severe water woes. On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown ordered a 25 percent reduction in that state's water use. 

In Idaho, noticeable snowpack-related challenges have included the early closure of Bogus Basin and, according to an Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service report, that's the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg: As a result of a warmer, drier March, Idaho saw a decrease in snowpack of between 20 percent and 30 percent. Of 137 sites across the state where snowpack is measured, only 30 of them reported March snow accumulation.