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.