Water supply remains stable despite dry month

Forecast streamflows in the Elwha and Dungeness rivers were stable through March, remaining on track to be normal this summer, according to the April 1 Washington Water Supply Outlook Report.

The Dungeness River had 105 percent of average runoff in March, according to the monthly report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Big Quilcene and Wynoochee rivers are expected to see near average runoff during the same period also, the report stated.

The Big Quilcene River is a drinking water source for the city of Port Townsend.

The status of the Elwha River, drinking water source for the city of Port Angeles, was not addressed in this month’s report.

The river basin that includes the Elwha and Dungeness rivers reported the lowest March precipitation of any the state’s river basins, with 38 percent of average for March, dropping it from 102 percent to 92 percent of the water year average.

“Short term weather forecasts indicate some moisture accumulation mid-month however the 30-day and even 90-day predictions are unstable,” the report said.

“The Climate Prediction Center will only provide for equal chances of above, below or normal conditions.”

The North Olympic Peninsula’s snowpack as of April 1 was 104 percent of average – and 94 percent of last year’s total.

Temperatures also were 1-2 degrees above average for March and 1 degree above average for the October-September water year.

The snowpack telemetry site at the Dungeness headwaters in the Olympic National Forest in Clallam County – at an of elevation 4,000 feet – recorded a snow depth of 10 inches as of April 1, with 5.2 inches of water content, versus 11.4 inches of water content last year a 36-year average of 8.6 inches.

This area of snowpack feeds Silver Creek which flows into the Dungeness River, a source of Sequim’s drinking water.

The snowpack telemetry site at Mount Crag in Olympic National Forest in Jefferson County – at an elevation of 4,050 feet – recorded a snow depth of 74 inches as of April 1, with 28.2 inches of water content, versus 35.2 inches last year and a 36-year average of 30.8 inches.

This area of snowpack feeds the Dosewallips River system.

The snowpack telemetry site at Waterhole in Olympic National Park in Clallam County – at an elevation of 5,000 feet – recorded a snow depth of 94 inches as of April 1, with 40 inches of water content, versus 39.6 inches last year and a 36-year average of 35.3 inches.

This feeds the Lillian River which flows into the Elwha River, the source of drinking water for Port Angeles.

Statewide, the Newman Lake Basin near Spokane snow surveys reported the lowest readings at 61 percent of average, while readings in the Nooksack River area of Whatcom County reported the highest, at 117 percent of average.

The April 1 readings at snowpack telemetry sites were 98 percent of average statewide, down 22 percent from March 1.

The National Resources Conservation Service monitors a network of more than 50 high-elevation “snow telemetry” sites in the Olympic and Cascade mountains that provide data on precipitation, temperature, snow depth and water content.

Three sites are in the northeast Olympics.

The devices are used to predict summer runoff and the amount of water available for fish and irrigation needs around the state.

Information is available on the conservation service Web site www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Washington/washington.html.

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