Mountain Snowpack Levels Down

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, December 26 2013 at 3:15 PM, Updated: Thu, December 26 2013 at 3:25 PM

While it's still early in the season, a lack of mountain snow pack is starting to make Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers nervous.

Kevin Conroy of the Natural Resource Conservation Service tracks mountain snow pack levels.  And so far, those levels are way below average...

"We're sitting about in the 20% range for snow pack, or water content - which is fairly low."

Today's levels are at 24% of the average for this date...and that could spell trouble later on.

The mountain snow pack levels are critical, as the spring runoff will provide irrigation water that farmers and ranchers will need through the summer. 

The most recent snow hit nearly 3 weeks ago, and it had a relatively low moisture content.

But Kevin Conroy says it's too early to panic...

"I don't think so.  The weather here's pretty unpredictable, you never know.  You could have a dry fall, followed by a really wet spring, so I think it's just time to hope for the best for a lot of snow in January, February, March."

Most data comes from automated 'Sno-tel' sites.

Conroy will begin heading out to test sites in a couple of weeks to make additional measurements, and to check moisture levels.

Those measurements will play a key role in how much water farmers get next spring.

"I think we usually have a pretty good handle by March, late February, March."  Says Conroy, "On what the water year is going to look like."

The irrigation season normally gets underway in early April.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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