Precipitation makes a dent in drought conditions

Snow and rain in April after a 3-month dry period
Posted at 5:17 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 19:22:59-04

April showers bring May flowers, but right now it’s not just raining in southern Idaho, it’s also snowing.

Friday night a windy cold front kicked up dust in southern Idaho as it rolled through the region, with cold and damp weather settling behind.

“My kids were not at all excited to see the snow coming down, they're ready for it to be gone. But as a hydrologist, it's quite encouraging, especially in a drought year like this," David Hoekema, Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, told Idaho News 6. “If it can just edge it out another week or two, we'll be into a normal snow melt pattern.”

2022 has so far been a year of extremes. Boise had its third driest first three months on record with 1.55 inches of precipitation, or 41% of normal.

“People have been preparing for drought and if they keep kind of that drought mentality in place, then it's likely that if we continue on with a more normal situation then we'll be in pretty good, in a pretty decent place," Hoekema said.

This week active weather that's especially strong and cold for April provides some relief to parched water systems.

Despite Boise getting about a 0.25 inches of water so far, that’s still only about 75% of normal.

“Last year they had to cut off September 15. and, you know, this year if this pattern were to hold for another week or two you know, I'd say the chances of an adequate water supply go up quite a bit," Hoekema said of last year's early irrigation cut off date.

Even if the system continues and helps to extend the irrigation season, it likely won’t impact the multi-year water deficit. On top of that, if the summer ahead is hot, it will put even more stress on the system.

“Every drop of water we can get, every snow flurry, is beneficial. But overall across the state we're expecting the drought to continue," Hoekema said.