A historic February snowfall has Idaho farmers excited for the growing season

Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 14:40:10-05

At the end of January there was a growing concern about the snowpack and the water that would be available this summer for farmers and outdoor recreationalists. That concern is gone after a historic February of snow.

We tagged along with water supply specialist Ron Abramovich of the NRCS, who does a monthly snow survey and he said after February there will be enough snow to fill the reservoirs with water.

"The really good news is how much below average we were a month ago; we were 75 percent of average," said Abramovich.

After February, the snow water equivalent in the Boise River Basin is at 128 percent, the most that's grown in one month since 1999, and the majority of Idaho is above 100 percent. The northern tip of the panhandle hovers just under 100 percent.

In terms of actual snowfall, the Mores Creek Summit area received 75 inches, more than six full feet of snow this month, and that is the biggest increase in the month of February since 1942. However, this is great news for Idaho farmers.

"It's job security. This February has been the most amazing February I've seen in a lot of years," said Jake Putnam of the Idaho Farm Bureau. "For those of us that farm water intensive crops, we know that everything is on the table and we will be able to plant anything we want."

It also comes as a boost to have this much snowfall this early because the sooner farmers can plan out their growing season, the better off they will be. As Putnman said, this snow will help farmers secure loans because the banks now know that there will be enough water.

The Bureau of Reclamation will start releasing water from the reservoirs and people can expect the Boise River to rise to flows hovering between 1700 and 1800 cubic feet per second by late next week.

Those reservoirs, Anderson Ranch, Arrowrock and Lucky Peak, currently are filled at 54 percent capacity. The Payette River system is at 62 percent and the Owyhee Basin is also looking good.