Cool, wet winter in store for Pacific Northwest, forecaster says

The Farmers Almanac calls for a mild, dry winter in the Pacific Northwest.

Not so fast, said Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions in Champaign, Ill.

At least three cold and wet weather systems are heading toward the Northwest  from Alaska and Canada in the next 10 days, Snodgrass said.

Snow could accumulate in the Cascade and Rocky mountains, which Snodgrass hopes will continue.

“The more precipitation we can pile up in the mountains, the better our situation is going to be for going into the 2021 growing season,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass expects the pattern to continue through Thanksgiving and into December, with temperatures that are average to lower.

La Nina — a complex weather pattern that results from lower ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean — will likely be moderate strength through the winter, Snodgrass said.

He compared this winter to the winters of 1998-1999, 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2010-2011 and 2016-2017. Cold air came from the northwest, resulting in more precipitation, he said.

NOAA’s winter outlook also favors a colder northern tier of the U.S., with above-average precipitation.

“Our highest probability is going to be toward a cooler and wetter winter,” he said.

Snodgrass delivered predictions about the coming winter, and beyond, during the Nov. 6 Northwest Farm Credit Services virtual ag outlook conference .

Network of small farmers voices support for cap and trade in Oregon

SALEM — As Oregon lawmakers clash over a controversial bill to curb the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, Mimi Casteel says climate change is already posing a major identity crisis for winegrowers.

Casteel grew up on her family’s vineyard in the Willamette Valley, home of internationally recognized Pinot noir. She remembers harvest usually happened around October, with the area’s relatively mild weather allowing more time for grapes to ripen and add layers of distinctive berry-like flavors.

Over the years, Casteel said that climatic window has begun to shift. Summers are becoming hotter and drier, forcing growers to pick grapes earlier in the season when sugars — and thus alcohol content — are higher but flavors have not yet come into balance.

In short, Oregon Pinot noir might no longer taste like Oregon Pinot noir.

“We just established ourselves a world-class wine region,” Casteel said. “We’re looking at a hard reality where that is not what we have anymore.”

In 2008, Casteel started her own vineyard, Hope Well Wine, in the Eola-Amity Hills west of Salem. She is one of more than 270 small farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who signed on in support of Senate Bill 1530 — Oregon’s cap and trade proposal — through the Oregon Climate and Agriculture Network, or OrCAN.

The bill is now stalled in the Legislature as both House and Senate Republicans staged boycotts of the short session this week, demanding that cap and trade go to the voters.

OrCAN Director Megan Kemple rejected that notion, saying the bill is comprehensive with extensive input from all sides.

“No bill has had this much work and this much public process,” Kemple said. “The Legislature is where policy like this should be made.”

Opponents of the bill, including the Oregon Farm Bureau and Timber Unity, a grassroots group of farmers and loggers whose members have staged large rallies outside the Capitol, argue that SB 1530 will raise fuel and energy prices, crippling agricultural producers who cannot pass the increased costs along to consumers.

A statewide cap-and-trade system would also have a negligible impact on climate change, critics add. Oregon generated just 0.13% of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency.

But Casteel said the bill contains a number of compromises intended to protect rural communities and trade-exposed businesses, and is a necessary step toward protecting natural resources.

“This would facilitate the transition toward climate-smart farming,” she said. “The smartest, most responsible thing we can do right now is throw our full and honest support behind farmers who can protect this region.”

Under cap and trade, the state sets a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions and charges companies for allowances to exceed the limit. The cap gradually lowers over time, which is meant to encourage the companies to adopt more climate-friendly practices and technology.

Money collected would go into a state Climate Investment Fund with specific allocation levels for adaptation projects, including 25% for wildfire mitigation and 25% for natural and working lands to adopt measures such as tree planting, cover crops, no-till farming, riparian buffers and capturing dairy gas to create renewable energy.

Casteel, who built Hope Well Wine on 80 acres of reclaimed property, said these practices will ultimately determine whether Oregon is able to maintain its ecological resilience.

“It’s really farming where we make our greatest impact,” Casteel said. “We are on the front lines (of climate change).”

Other farmers who support cap and trade say the costs of doing nothing now are much higher than the cost of waiting until climate change creates irreparable harm.

In the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, Taylor Starr, executive director and farm manager at the nonprofit White Oak Farm and Education Center, said the last 10 years have seen increasing wildfires and lower snowpack in the Siskiyou Mountains, creating a lack of water flows later in the season.

Two years ago, Starr said the farm had its irrigation water shut off in early July, about a month earlier than usual. White Oak Farm grows and sells a variety of produce and contracts with several seed companies. The center also receives grants and contributions to support its programs.

“We’ve really had to adjust our scheduling,” Starr said. “When things are so uncertain, it makes that planning really challenging.”

Starr estimates the farm has invested about $10,000 to upgrade its irrigation systems, installing more efficient drip lines and resurrecting an old 1940s-era water storage pond. He said the farm is also shifted toward planting more deep-rooted perennial plants that can better withstand drought, versus shallow-rooted annuals.

Wildfire smoke is another serious issue, Starr said, choking skies and impacting customer turnout at local farmers’ markets. He said the farm has experienced a 10% drop in market revenue during smoky summers, which adds up to thousands of dollars of lost revenue.

“It is stressful,” he said. “It just feels like we’re in this ecosystem here that’s a little bit on edge.”

Sarah Deumling, forest manager for Zena Forest Products in Salem, said the company owns one of the largest intact remaining forests in the Willamette Valley, though climate change is beginning to change the makeup of species in the woods.

Deumling said drought has led to a 10-20% loss of Douglas fir trees that had to be removed and replanted with white oak and cedar.

“I’m not the only one who has firs dying,” Duemling said. “Some people have cedars dying that wouldn’t normally be dying. … If you put that out on a trajectory, the costs can be huge.”

Deumling admits she is is not certain whether cap and trade is the best solution for managing Oregon’s greenhouse gases, but she said producers can no longer afford to wait years for someone to do something about it.

“We’re trying to make a living. It’s not easy,” she said. “We better do all we can to prepare for and get a handle on climate change.”

Weather forecast: La Nina’s on the way

SPOKANE — A La Nina is on the way, bringing with it wetter weather later this spring.

That’s the prediction of weatherman Art Douglas, who delivered his long-range forecast Feb. 4 at the Spokane Ag Show. Douglas is a professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and is a fixture at the show.

El Nino and La Nina are complex weather patterns that result from variations in the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperatures.

Lower ocean surface temperatures off the West Coast mean a La Nina will develop later in the spring, Douglas said.

“Here in the wheat area, (the forecast is) about normal to above normal precipitation, which is what La Nina would suggest,” he said.

Douglas called for a “warmish” May, with normal to above normal precipitation in the Pacific Northwest.

His summer forecast calls for a warm and dry June and July and a cool and wet August.

In the meantime, the Pacific Northwest has become wetter in the last 30 days, following an El Nino in which the region was “very dry” from April through September, Douglas said.

A high-pressure ridge in Alaska will block Pacific moisture from reaching the West in February, Douglas said.

The pattern will persist into March.

“So it’s going to have an impact on spring weather, but not as bad as it could,” Douglas said.

Winterkill of wheat will be a concern in February and early March, Douglas said.

Through the spring, high pressure ridging in the Pacific and Southwest will favor dry weather elsewhere in the West.

From March through May, Douglas predicts normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and slightly drier conditions west of the Cascades.

Douglas said the 2020 forecast appears most similar to the years 1989, 1990, 2008 and 2018.

“Do not go and look at one of those years alone and say, ‘This is what I’m going to have this year,’” he said. “It’s all of these four years together. It’s a blend.”

Warming in the Pacific Ocean over the past five years was due to weakened wind systems and weaker ocean currents. Warming in the Atlantic Ocean is due to enhanced wind systems and ocean currents.

“The two oceans aren’t behaving the same, in fact, they’re the opposite of each other,” Douglas said. “If you believe in global warming, both oceans would have to be behaving the same, and they’re not. These are decadal climate changes we’re dealing with right now, and apparently we’re getting ready to change.”

The forecast should mean a less intense fire season for the Pacific Northwest, which this year will likely end earlier, Douglas said.

Farmers can expect “better early fall moisture and cooler temperatures,” he said.

Oregon snowpack well below normal heading into 2020

Early season snowfall is lagging again across Oregon, potentially foreshadowing another dry and difficult summer ahead for farmers and ranchers.

But as 2019 proved, things can turn around quickly, giving plenty of reason for hope.

According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oregon’s snow-water equivalent — the amount of water contained within snow — is just 45% of normal statewide. Every water basin is measuring below average for snow, with the exception of the Owyhee Basin in southeast Oregon, which is holding up at 117% of normal.

The lowest totals are in the Hood, Sandy and Lower Deschutes basins at 25% of normal, and the Willamette Basin at 26%.

Mountain snowpack is crucial for replenishing streams and reservoirs for farms and fish, especially in Eastern Oregon. As snow melts, it trickles down into creeks and rivers, sustaining healthy stream flows while providing irrigation water for crops and livestock.

Scott Oviatt, snow survey supervisor for NRCS Oregon, said the agency will release its first water supply outlook report by Jan. 10. Based on the current lack of snow, Oviatt said he anticipates lower water availability earlier in the spring, though there is still time to rebound.

“We’re not in panic mode yet,” Oviatt said. “It is early in the (water) year … We can see some improvement, depending on conditions.”

The water year, as defined by hydrologists, begins on Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30 of the following calendar year. November and December are typically much cooler and wetter months for Oregon, Oviatt said, however most of the state’s 90 snow monitoring sites are measuring less than 8 inches of snow-water equivalent.

Perhaps more concerning, overall precipitation including rain is averaging just 50% of normal statewide. The Oregon Water Resources Department reports that November in particular was one of the top five driest months on record for northwest Oregon.

Racquel Rancier, spokeswoman for OWRD, said that average stream flows were just 40% of normal statewide as of Dec. 30.

“We certainly would like to see better and more consistent stream flows and a greater snowpack at this point,” Rancier said. “Conditions need to greatly improve in the coming months in order to have a more normal water year.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly 98% of Oregon listed in some stage of drought, ranging from “abnormally dry” to “moderate.”

Conditions were much the same at this time last year, too, when snowpack was just 42% of normal levels in early January. Then came February, which brought drought-busting winter storms that dumped several feet of snow at higher elevations and boosted snow-water equivalent by 20-30%.

With two-thirds of winter still to go, Oviatt said he is optimistic for improvement.

“At this point, our message will be to watch the conditions,” he said. “Let’s just hope for improvement at this point.”

Snow-water equivalent is measured using what is known as a “snow pillow,” made out of a synthetic rubber and filled with an organic antifreeze solution. As snow falls, it compresses the pillow and a sensor measures the pressure in real time, which is used to calculate the amount of water in the snow.

The data is then compared to a 30-year average between 1981-2010 to come up with a percent of normal.

Between the “snowmageddon” of February and drier-than-usual November, Oviatt said increasingly large and unpredictable swings in weather variability are making it harder for the NRCS to accurately predict water supplies until later in the season.

That could lead to changes in modeling, Oviatt said, though he did not elaborate.

“It’s a changing world,” he said. “We’re trying to keep up with technology as our partner agencies are doing. It’s an ongoing process at this point.”

Early season snowfall, precipitation lagging across Oregon

SALEM — A dry start to the fall season is raising some concerns among state water managers about the possibility of drought returning to Oregon, especially in the Rogue and Umpqua river basins.

Overall precipitation is measuring well below normal for the water year that began Sept. 30, according to the latest water conditions report from the Oregon Water Resources Department. The deficit ranges from nearly an inch below normal east of the Cascades, to more than 5 inches below normal in parts of southwest Oregon.

While no part of the state is currently in drought, the agency’s report states that could change in the coming weeks unless there is a marked change in weather patterns.

Statewide, average precipitation at sites measured by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is just 45% of normal across the state.

The highest totals as of Nov. 18 were in northeast Oregon, including 71% in the Umatilla, Walla Walla and Willow basins and 67% in the Grande Ronde, Powder, Burnt and Imnaha basins.

The lowest totals are in southwest and south-central Oregon, at 26% of normal in the Rogue and Umpqua basins; 24% in the Klamath Basin; and 21% in the Goose Lake and Lake County area.

The Willamette Basin — home of the state’s leading agricultural counties by value of products — is trending right in the middle at 45% of normal.

Stream flows are still averaging slightly above normal across Oregon, thanks to drought-busting record snowfall in February and heavy rains in April that bolstered supplies over the summer. However, the report cautions that more is needed to maintain that positive momentum.

“In response to recent dry weather, flows in many streams in Western Oregon have declined significantly over the past two weeks,” the report states. “In some areas of southwestern Oregon, stream flows are less than 10% of normal.”

The highest stream flows were in the Sandy, North Coast, Mid Coast and Umatilla basins at more than 130% of normal for the month of October, dropping down to about 53% of normal on the South Coast.

As irrigators start eyeing relief, short- and long-term weather forecasts offer a mixed bag.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center predicts below-average precipitation over the next two weeks, and an equal chance for above- or below-normal precipitation across most of the state over the next three months.

The lone exception, once again, is southwest Oregon, which is looking at a greater chance of continued dry conditions.

At this time last year, the entire state of Oregon was listed in some stage of drought — including extreme drought across portions of southern and central Oregon. Then came the February snow and April rain, proving just how quickly conditions can change.

“We always prefer to see a good start to the water year,” said Racquel Rancier, spokeswoman for the OWRD. “This year has been a slow start with below-normal precipitation, but it really is too early to be able to determine how water conditions will look in a few months and whether drought conditions will occur.”

As El Nino fades, winter forecast a ‘crap shoot’

The Pacific Ocean along the equator cooled in June and is expected to be at normal temperatures in a month or two, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

The cooling and rapid demise of an El Nino system was unforeseen a month ago by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. The drop in sea-surface and subsurface temperatures leaves long-range weather forecasters with no strong clue about the months ahead.

“The bottom line is that it’s pretty close to a crap shoot for this fall and winter,” Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said. “The deck isn’t stacked one way or the other.”

A weak El Nino formed in February. A month ago, NOAA said there was a 66% chance it would stay through the summer and a 50 to 55% chance it would last through the winter.

One forecasting model used by NOAA even predicted a moderate, rather than weak, El Nino in the coming winter. El Nino winters are generally warmer than usual in the Northwest, and less snowpack accumulates for use in summer irrigation.

In a turnabout, NOAA now says the odds favor neutral conditions, beginning next month and continuing through the winter. “Neutral means things are more more up in the air,” NOAA climate scientist Michelle L’Heureux said.

Last month’s outlook, a 50-50 chance that El Nino would stick around, reflected uncertainty about the course of atmospheric conditions. In the past month, the conditions fell in line with a weakening El Nino, according to NOAA.

“It was very difficult for us to predict what was going to happen,” L’Heureux said. “This situation now is not as opaque.”

In the mid-Pacific along the equator, the stretch that most influences seasonal forecasts, the sea-surface temperature cooled in June to 0.6 degrees celsius above normal from 0.7 degrees celsius above normal. The threshold for an El Nino is 0.5 degrees celsius above normal.

Subsurface temperatures were above average at the beginning of June and returned to near average by the end of the month.

As El Nino fades, the chances of an La Nina forming rise, though it’s still a long shot. NOAA estimated the chance of a La Nina prevailing by December at 16%. Last month, the chance was only 6%.

La Nina, a cooling of the sea’s surface, generally means colder Northwest winters.

In the meantime, less precipitation continues to be seen in Washington. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday that 55% of the state is in severe or moderate drought, nearly unchanged from the week before.

Assistant State Climatologist Karin Bumbaco said more of Central Washington is drying out, but still not in a drought.

Recent rain in Western Washington stopped conditions from worsening, but did not pull the region out of drought, she said. “If you look at the long-term picture, the drought is not over.”

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency in about half the state in May. No area has been added to the declaration since then.

NOAA will release a new three-month outlook July 18. When neutral sea temperatures prevail, forecasters often base their predictions on recent climate trends.

Drought loosens its hold on Oregon this year

While parts of western Washington are already grappling with severe drought heading into the summer, Oregon appears to be in better shape than last year.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 17% of the state is in some stage of drought, compared to more than 90% at this time a year ago.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service also released its final water basin outlook report for June, showing that overall precipitation in Oregon is 95% of normal dating back to October 2018. Basins in Central and Eastern Oregon are mostly above average, thanks to record-breaking February snowfall and heavy rains in April.

The driest areas statewide include the Willamette Basin, at 89% of average precipitation as of June 10, and the Hood, Sandy and Lower Deschutes basins at 80%.

It is a stark contrast to last year, when by June Oregon Gov. Kate Brown had already declared drought emergencies in Klamath, Lake, Grant, Harney and Wheeler counties. The governor would declare additional droughts through the summer in Baker, Douglas, Gilliam, Lincoln, Malheur and Morrow counties.

Drought in 2018 was fueled by below-average snowpack combined with unseasonably warm weather that melted snow up to 2 1/2 times faster than usual at higher elevations. That left farmers and ranchers to grapple with water shortages, while leaving forests and rangeland especially prone to wildfire.

Conditions are much more favorable this year. The NRCS reports that 70% of long-term snow monitoring sites melted out within a week of their normal time frame. As of June 1, 13 sites still had some snow, which is also normal for the time of year.

Farmers and ranchers are looking at mixed stream flows from east to west through the end of the irrigation season in September. Streams and rivers varied widely in average flows during May, from 30% to 80% of normal across most of Western Oregon, and 100% to 190% in Eastern Oregon.

Reservoir storage continues to be a bright spot overall, with most reservoirs holding average to well above average amounts of water, according to the state Water Resources Department.

As summer heats up, Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest are again gearing up for another busy wildfire season, with the National Interagency Fire Center calling for a normal to above-normal potential for large fires.

Officials declared the start of fire season on June 10 in the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District, which includes 2.3 million acres of public and private forestland. District Forester Rob Pentzer said late May rain helped reduce fire risk, “but the recent warming trend is quickly drying fuels again and with limited moisture in the forecast it is unlikely that the risk will drop again.”

So far, one fires has been recorded in Oregon. The Taylor Butte fire was started by lightning on June 1 about 20 miles northeast of Chiloquin, Ore., and burned 293 acres before it was contained.

Washington looks to fund drought-relief projects

The Washington Department of Ecology began taking applications Tuesday from irrigation districts, conservation districts and other public bodies to relieve drought hardships.

Ecology has $2 million to distribute before the end of the summer. Agencies in watersheds where drought has been declared can apply for up to $350,000 to benefit crops and livestock, but must match the grant dollar for dollar.

Agriculture-related projects such as leasing water, deepening wells, installing pumps, and repairing leaky pipes or canals could qualify, according to Ecology.

Agencies with projects to help city water systems, and fish and wildlife also are eligible to apply. Projects must be a cost-effective and effective response to a hardship caused by this drought, according to Ecology.

So far, Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency in 27 watersheds. The watersheds are expected to have drought-related problems and less than 75 percent of normal water supplies during all or part of the summer.

Most of the watersheds are west of the Cascades, though some are in Eastern Washington. Ecology will convene a meeting of water-supply managers from throughout the state on Friday to review whether more watersheds are facing shortages.

The drought declaration could be expanded later this month.

According to the federal U.S. Drought Monitor, Washington is the driest of the West’s 11 states. Some 43% of Washington is in a “moderate drought,” while another 27% is abnormally dry. About 30% is in good shape at the moment.

“We’re coming out of a mediocre snowpack winter with lower-than-normal precipitation,” Ecology drought coordinator Jeff Marti said in a written statement. “We’re seeing some of the driest conditions in the northwest part of the state, while locations in the southeast have experienced recent flood watches.”

Some irrigators with junior water-rights have been curtailed in the Chehalis, Methow and Okanogan watersheds.

Projects will either qualify for money or won’t, according to Ecology. Applicants won’t be competing against each other, and grants will be awarded to eligible projects until the money is gone, according to Ecology.

The watersheds, known as Water Resource Inventory Areas, covered by the drought declaration are:

Chelan, Colville, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Elwha-Dungeness, Entiat, Grays-Elochoman, Kennedy-Goldsborough, Kettle, Lower Chehalis, Lower Skagit-Samish, Lower Yakima, Lyre-Hoko, Methow, Naches, Nooksack, Okanogan, Queets-Quinault, Quilcene-Snow, Skokomish-Dosewallips, Sol Duc-Hoh, Stillaguamish, Upper Chehalis, Upper Skagit, Upper Yakima, Wenatchee and Willapa.

Washington’s last drought emergency was in 2015.

Drought declared in 24 more Washington watersheds

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency Monday in 24 watersheds, making public agencies in about half the state eligible for drought-relief grants.

Summer water supplies in the watersheds are expected to be less than 75% of normal, according to the Department of Ecology. The governor declared an emergency in three other watersheds in early April.

“As the climate continues to change, we must be proactive in taking steps to plan for those impacts,” Inslee said in a written statement.

The drought declarations are the first in Washington since a statewide drought in 2015.

Ecology reports the snowpack is melting fast and on Monday was the sixth-lowest in the past 30 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that June, July and August will be warmer than average in Washington.

Lawmakers have set aside $2 million for projects to help farms, fish or water systems. The Department of Ecology plans to begin taking applications for projects in early June.

The grants could fund projects such as drilling emergency wells, trucking in water, leasing water and buying conservation equipment, according to Ecology.

The watersheds named in Monday’s declaration are on both sides of the Cascades and cover all or parts of 23 of the state’s 39 counties. The watersheds are:

Chelan, Colville, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Elwha-Dungeness, Entiat, Grays-Elochoman, Kennedy-Goldsborough, Kettle, Lower Chehalis, Lower Skagit-Samish, Lower Yakima, Lyre-Hoko, Naches, Nooksack, Queets-Quinault, Quilcene-Snow, Skokomish-Dosewallips, Soleduc, Stillaguamish, Upper Chehalis, Upper Skagit, Wenatchee, and Willapa.

On April 4, an emergency was declared in the Methow, Okanogan and Upper Yakima watersheds in Central Washington.

According to a May 8 Ecology analysis, the driest watersheds were projected to have 62% of normal summer water supplies.

Water supplies are near normal in central Puget Sound and above normal in southeast Washington.

Drought conditions have been growing, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some 34% of Washington was in a “moderate” drought on Thursday, compared to 10% two weeks earlier.

Through the end of the April, 2019 has been the 15th driest on record in Washington. Records go back to 1895. March was especially dry, the fourth driest March on record. Some parts of the state, notably the Palouse and Blue Mountains, have been wet, however.

Forecast: Water supplies across Oregon mixed

PORTLAND — Oregon farmers and ranchers can expect mixed irrigation supplies heading into summer after months of fast-changing weather.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service released its statewide water outlook report for May, predicting near- to above-average stream flows in eastern and southern Oregon, and near- to below-average stream flows in central and western Oregon.

Scott Oviatt, snow survey supervisor for the NRCS in Portland, said reservoir levels are faring well across the state, averaging from 93% to 140% of normal storage.

“Water users that have access to reservoir storage will likely have adequate water supplies this summer, while those dependent upon in-stream flows will need to continually monitor conditions due to rapidly changing weather patterns,” Oviatt said.

Conditions have been feast or famine through most of the water year dating back to October, Oviatt said. The year got off to a slow start until record-breaking snowfall in February, which dramatically changed the agency’s forecast.

Then came early April, bringing heavy rains that mixed with rapid snowmelt to cause widespread flooding and record-high stream flows. More than half of river gauging stations around the state measured record-high stream flows, including 300% to 500% of normal in the Umatilla, Walla Walla and Willow Creek basins of northeast Oregon.

Flooding also occurred in the Willamette Basin, which received 186% of its normal April precipitation. Now, as temperatures rise into the upper 80s and much of the in-stream flow has already passed, Oviatt said the concern will begin shifting toward parched rangeland and the possibility of wildfires.

Overall, basins in eastern and southern Oregon have received 100% to 120% of normal precipitation dating back to October, while those in western and central Oregon have received 85% to 100%.

Snowpack continues to linger at higher elevations in Eastern Oregon, while dwindling to about half of normal in the Klamath, Willamette and Upper Deschutes basins, and as low as 40% in the Hood, Sandy and Lower Deschutes basins.

Thanks to a wet February and April, the U.S. Drought Monitor lists just 17% of Oregon as “abnormally dry,” as opposed to 81% of the state a year ago.

That said, the National Climate Prediction Center is calling for increased chances of higher temperatures and a roughly equal chance of above- or below normal precipitation over the next three months.

“In an optimum world, we would cool down here and still get some spring precipitation carrying through the early part of June,” Oviatt said.  “As we know, by that point in time, we just don’t receive that much precipitation after that.”