Idaho needs more active weather to build up snowpack

Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 20:45:47-04

BOISE — Right on schedule as spring ski season officially starts at Bogus Basin, active weather brought 4 fresh inches of spring conditions last Tuesday.

Above 5,000 ft. the snow was lighter, but below that elevation the precipitation came down more as of rain/snow mix.

“You know, the snow’s wet, it's pretty heavy," Tom Gattiker, Bogus passholder, told Idaho News 6,"It's still pretty fun up top. It's a little heavy as you get down closer to the base."

But what was this system's ultimate impact on regional snowpack? Well it helped, but not by much.

"The rain falling on top of the snow, again, that’s a good thing. It just puts more moisture into the snowpack and we do get some beneficial runoff even into the streams and so forth," Troy Lindquist, National Weather Service Hydrologist, said.

According to Lindquist, capacity for spring runoff isn’t being indicated by the data yet.

“We still need some warmer temperatures or even rainstorms. When we get some rain on the snowpack that will change the physical properties of the snowpack and get it towards that state where it will actually runoff more efficiently or faster," Lindquist explained.

Downstream, the Boise River serves as a visual indicator of the snowpack to forecaster Steve Stuebner.

“So if there was a ton of snow in the mountains, they would be evacuating those reservoirs right now to make room for the snow melt to come in," Stuebner said.

Snowpack levels remain low. For example, the snowpack at Mores Creek Summit just northeast of Bogus Basin is at about 30% below average levels for this time of year.

“Going into this year we were thinking that we would probably need 120% of normal snow to really fill the reservoirs and bring things back up to par, and we didn't get that," Stuebner said.