Western Snowpack Melts to Below Normal Levels

The year started out strong in terms of snowpack. A month ago, we were 150% of average or greater, but it’s suddenly fallen back to near normal or even below normal levels. USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey explains what areas are lacking and why producers should be concerned.

“This is pretty much a west wide phenomenon, the only area that I should point out of the West that I has bucked this trend is the Pacific Northwest and that is an area that’s seen much more sustained storminess and actually several episodes of flooding, especially in mid-November and early January since significant flooding taking place in Western Washington, but for the remainder of the West, it’s been this up and down pattern. If we don’t see a change in the pattern, if we don’t restore the stormy pattern, some point in later February or March, we are facing not only the possibility, but increasingly it looks like the likelihood of much of the West experiencing a third consecutive year of drought.”

Rippey says another concern is the West has seen a mild winter, meaning spring could arrive sooner this year.


Concerns over snowpack

Unseasonably warm weather is pushing the Midwest into an early spring, leaving the soil in need of moisture