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Wet fall, dry winter ... wet spring?


 February 11, 2005 Herald and News


What's been a dry winter could make way for a wet spring if history holds true, Oregon's state climatologist George Taylor says.

"Historically, dry winters preceded by a wet fall are very likely to be followed by a wet spring," he said Thursday.

It was wet last fall in the Klamath Basin.

October, the first month of the water year, saw 2.15 inches of precipitation at the Kingsley Field weather station. The average for the month is .77 of an inch.

"There are always a lot of variables in rainfall for specific spots throughout the region," said Taylor, who works at Oregon State University, "but in general, August, September and October were wetter than average throughout Oregon."

The winter has been dry, though. There was snow at the end of December and the beginning of January. But save for scattered snow and bursts of rain, that's been about it.

The dry times and warm days have been typical throughout Oregon. Southeastern Oregon has fared relatively better than the rest of the state, Taylor said.

Statewide the snowpack is at 32 percent of average for this time of year. In Klamath County it is at 53 percent.

Even though the state's skimpy snowpack is worrisome, Taylor said, it isn't necessarily ruinous. Snow typically keeps piling up in the mountains until April 1.

"We still have time for it to build," Taylor said. "We certainly are not going to make up our current deficit. But a wet spring accomplishes much the same thing because it's coming closer to demand."

Timing is the key, Taylor said. To make up for the light snowpack, Oregon needs to receive the water just prior to demand, which rises in spring when agricultural water use leaps.

A wet spring could help out the groundwater situation and fill up low reservoirs, Taylor said.

"It doesn't solve all the problems, but it certainly improves the situation," he said.

With the urging of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Klamath County Board of Commissioners has asked the governor to declare a drought year in Klamath County.

As a member of the Oregon Drought Council, Taylor is one of the people involved with that decision. The council meets Feb. 22 to discuss water supplies and possible drought declarations. Comprised of state and federal representatives, the council will assess the issues and then advise Gov. Ted Kulongoski.


This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA, the Klamath Basin, and private property rights can be found at The Klamath Bucket Brigade's website - http://www.klamathbucketbrigade.org/ -- please visit today.

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