The Willamette Valley was hit with a late surge of snow, helping the preparation for the hot summer.
After a historically warmer winter, the Willamette Basin has been deprived of the snow that is essential to maintaining the mild Oregon climate. Even though the Willamette Basin is at 77 percent of the average snowfall, many other areas of Oregon are suffering from extremely low amounts of snow. The Klamath Basin has received only 53 percent of the average snowpack, according to the Oregon SNOTEL recordings.
The early warm weather left most of Oregon in a drought with less than half of the necessary snowpack, according to an article from the Statesman Journal. After a surprising two weeks of snow, many sites in Oregon doubled in snowpack. The added layers help the area store water in the snowmelt until the summer. The longer the water lasts, the milder the drought that Willamette Valley experiences during the summer months.
“Most of the reservoirs that provide water to the population of western Oregon are filled primarily from winter rain and snowmelt,” Evan Bentley, a National Weather Service meteorologist, reported to the Willamette Week. “In particularly meager years, drought and water availability can be concerns.”
17 million acres of Oregon are used for farming, according to Oregon Agriculture A Quick Overview. The snowpack is important to the 214,000 employees in the agriculture business. Without water, a drought could disrupt the 25.8 billion dollar industry that supplies 80 percent of Oregon’s exports.
Even though the snow packed on at the last minute, the Pacific Northwest is still dealing with a loss of snowpack over the decades. The area has suffered losing 15 to 30 percent of the normal snowpack according to Science Daily. As the winter season comes to an end, Oregon’s weather made a last-ditch effort to pack on snow for the summer’s main water source.