Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, March 31 2014 at 5:31 PM, Updated: Mon, March 31 2014 at 10:30 PM
Crater Lake National Park, Ore. -- Measurements taken at Crater Lake today could play a critical role in how much water the Klamath Basin can expect this summer.
Scott Robbins of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) notes that recent snows are helping, but mountain snowpack levels are still only at 30 percent of average...
"I think we need to be prepared for a tough summer coming up."
That's why Robbins and Chris Gebauer are on a business trip to measure snow levels at Crater Lake National Park.
"This is going to be a critical measurement." Says Robbins. "Because it will be just about the peak that we're going to have for the year."
And they're measuring the old-fashioned way.
The survey samples are being taken in an area not far from the Steel Center Park Headquarters. The numbers will help to calculate just how much water farmers and ranchers will be getting this summer.
Chris Gebauer of the NRCS notes that the site has been surveyed for several decades...
"This one has some historic value, we've been doing it since 1943."
Automated 'Sno-tel' sites can provide daily update, but Scott Robbins points out the traditional surveys can be done in sensitive areas...
"The old-fashioned way is the good way to ground truth, and make sure that we're getting accurate data."
Snow depth is measured at 5 marked locations.
The snow is also weighed to determine water content.
The data recorded will help the Bureau of Reclamation calculate when to start irrigation flows, and the size of those flows - something farmers in the Klamath Basin will be watching closely.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to announced a general forecast on April 7th as to what kind of year Klamath Project farmers can expect.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.