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  1. “Western Snowpack and Water Supply Perspectives” Phil Pasteris Supervisory Meteorologist Natural Resources Conservation Service United States Department of Agriculture National Water and Climate Center http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov phil.pasteris@usda.gov

  2. Snow Survey / Water Supply Forecast Program • J. E. Church • 1909 Mt. Rose, Nevada • 1935, “Principles of Snow Surveying as Applied to Forecasting Stream Flow,” Journal of Agricultural Research • NRCS Activities • 1935 - SCS officially began snow survey and water supply forecasting in the western U.S. and Alaska • PL 74-46 Soil Conservation Act

  3. Snow Survey Program Activities • Lead the Cooperative Snow Survey Program in 12 western states • Operate the SNOTEL network – 704 sites • Coordinate the cooperative manual snow survey program – 922 manual sites • Train snow surveyors in proper snow survey techniques and survival in remote areas

  4. SNOTEL Network • 1974 - Congress authorized and funded the SNOTEL system to automate remote sensing of the snowpack information • Reports daily snow water equivalent, precipitation, snow depth, temperature and other parameters as needed.

  5. SNOTEL Site Locations

  6. Mt. Rose, NV SNOTEL Site

  7. Meteor Burst Technology

  8. Water Supply Forecasting • 717 total WSF points, 499 are produced NRCS • Joint activity with National Weather Service • ~11,000 WSF issued in FY-2004 • 20 NRCS WSF points in Washington • Over 58,000 “unique user” accesses to WSF in April 2004

  9. SS-WSF Personnel • State Data Collection Offices • AK, CO, ID, MT, OR, UT • State Water Supply Specialists • AZ, CA, NV, NM, WA, WY • NWCC Staff at Portland, OR • Program Liaison in Washington, DC

  10. PNW Snow Survey / WSF Team • Oregon Data Collection Office • Jon Lea, Snow Survey Supervisor, 503-414-3267 • Sheila Strachan, Hydrologist, 503-414-3272 • Rashawn Tama-Sweet, Hydrologist, 503-414-3268 • Bill Overman, Hydrologic Technician, 503-414-3269 • Melissa Webb, Hydrologic Technician, 503-414-3270 • Scott Pattee, Water Supply Specialist, 360-428-7684 2021 E. College Way, Suite 214 Mt. Vernon, WA 98273 scott.pattee@wa.usda.gov • Water Supply Hydrologists - NWCC • Washington Cascades, Oregon, California, Jolyne Lea, 503-414-3040 • Washington, Columbia Basin, Tom Perkins, 503-414-3059 • Montana, Colorado, Jennifer Erxleben, 503-414-3033 • Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Tom Pagano, 503-414-3010 • Modeling Hydrologist, David Garen, 503-414-3021

  11. Water Year 2005 • Washington Governor declares statewide drought emergency. $12 mil in funding sought. • Oregon Governor declares drought emergency in Klamath Basin. • What IS going on this year? • Extremes in the north (dry) and in the south (wet) • The best of times, the worst of times? • Impacts on the ski industry. • How does it compare to 2001 and 1977 in the PNW? • What’s the spring and summer water supply forecast? • What about next water year? • Is this a “flash drought?”

  12. March 1, 2005 / 2001 Snowpacks

  13. Statistical Snowpack Ranking • 157 of 471 SNOTEL sites westwide with 20+ years of record rank in the lowest 5% (PNW) • 17 of 471 SNOTEL sites rank in the highest 5% (Southwest, Great Basin) • 25 Washington SNOTEL sites set record low snowpacks for March 15 • 30 Washington SNOTEL sites in the lowest 5% ranking

  14. Washington SNOTEL Sites

  15. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsElbow Lake – 3,200’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 1” / PRCP 78” | SWE 20” / PRCP 55”

  16. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsRainy Pass – 4,780’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 12” / PRCP 28” | SWE 20” / PRCP 20”

  17. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsStevens Pass – 4,070’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 8” / PRCP 48” | SWE 20” / PRCP 25”

  18. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsWhite Pass – 4,500’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 1” / PRCP 15” | SWE 11” / PRCP 13”

  19. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsCorral Pass – 6,000’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 9” / PRCP 20” | SWE 17” / PRCP 20”

  20. SNOTEL Station ComparisonsParadise– 5,120’ 3/19/2005 3/19/2001 SWE 22” / PRCP 48” | SWE 35” / PRCP 45”

  21. Snowpack ProjectionCorral Pass – 6,000’

  22. Precipitation ProjectionCorral Pass – 6,000’

  23. March 1, 1977 Water Supply Forecast

  24. March 1, 2005 / 2001 Water Supply

  25. NRCS / NWS WSF Points NRCS – Blue NWS – Red Joint – Yellow

  26. Cle Elum Lake Inflow WSF

  27. Salmon Crk. Conconully

  28. Skagit Basin WSF

  29. White / Green River WSF

  30. Lewis / Cowlitz WSF

  31. March 1, 2005 / 2001 Reservoir Storage 129% of Average Capacity 43% of Average Capacity

  32. March 1, 2005 / 2001 Reservoir Storage 2001 Reservoirs BUMPING LAKE CLE ELUM KACHESS KEECHELUS RIMROCK CONCONULLY RESERVOIR SALMON LAKE 2005 Additional Reservoirs Ross Chelan Diablo

  33. Cle Elum Storage: Above Average

  34. Lurking in Southwest WA...

  35. Closing Thoughts • “You can observe a lot just by watchin'.” “The future ain’t what is used to be.” Yogi Berra

  36. Closing Thoughts • We need to learn to “manage climate impacts.” • Maintain a robust climate observation network at all elevations. • Integrate water supply forecasts with risk-based water management decision models. • Enhance existing technology to deliver risk-based products directly to users in near real-time. • Snowpack analysis, volume forecasts, special indexes (SWSI, Drought Monitor, etc.)

  37. Thank You