Snowpack is above normal

April 2, 2012
Snowpack is above normal

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin
Published: April 02. 2012 4:00AM PST

A stormy end of winter and start to spring has pushed the snowpack above normal for this time of year in the Deschutes and Crooked river basins.

Surveys at the end of March showed the snowpack to be at 101 percent of the 30-year average for the basins, said Nicholle Kovach, Deschutes Basin engineer for the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“The whole season we have been below average,” she said.

Snowstorms sprinkled throughout March bucked the trend, Kovach said, boosting snowpack numbers over average.

Snow surveys in the mountains just west of Bend last week showed even better numbers than the average for the basins, Kovach said.

A check of the snow near Wanoga Sno-park showed nearly 137 percent of average, and a survey near Dutchman Flat found close to 103 percent of average. The Wanoga survey measured 74 inches, or more than 6 feet of snow, and the Dutchman Flat survey had 151 inches, or more than 12 feet. The Wanoga site is at 5,400 feet, and Dutchman Flat is at 6,320 feet.

Conservation Service workers conducted three manual snow surveys this year near Bend, Kovach said, going out at the end of January, February and March.

A dry stretch from early December to mid-January had kept the snowpack average down for the basins.

Heavy snow in mid-January dropped a record 59 inches, nearly 5 feet, over three days at Mt. Bachelor, but the snowpack was still behind in earlier surveys. As of March 1 the snowpack was at 71 percent of average for that time of year.

In Central Oregon the snowpack typically peaks near April 1 and then begins to shrivel as spring arrives. For the coming months, next fall and early winter, Kovach said the Conservation Service will monitor the snowpack using automated sensors.

More snow fell on the mountains Sunday and more should come in the next three days, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service.

Three to 7 inches of snow is likely to fall above 5,000 feet between now and Wednesday, said Douglas Weber, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Pendleton. The coming storm could also drop rain, he said, and perhaps about a half inch of snow on Bend.

“I think the next surge of moisture is expected to come in on Tuesday afternoon,” Weber said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,

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