Federal water managers say Lost Creek and Applegate reservoirs are both well on their way to filling for the 12th consecutive year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially will start its filling schedule Friday at Applegate Lake, with the reservoir already 10 feet higher than it generally is on Feb. 1.
And after a relatively slow four weeks of in-flows at Lost Creek since the start of its filling season Jan. 1, the reservoir remains about one foot shy of ideal — largely because of a two-week dry spell in mid-January, according to the Corps.
With more rain and snow forecast through the weekend and a snowpack already sitting at 116 percent of average, Corps officials expect no trouble playing catch-up at Lost Creek Reservoir.
"We're lagging a little bit behind, but being a foot behind is no concern," says Jim Buck, the Corps' operations manager for the Rogue River basin. "February is a fairly aggressive filling time."
The last time either of Jackson County's two largest reservoirs didn't fill was 2001, when a drought left Lost Creek 16 feet shy of full and Applegate 82 feet from full, Corps records show.
The filling seasons at both reservoirs started slowly each of the past three years, but wet springs made up for less-than-average snowpacks in the region.
The Corps historically manages its two Rogue basin reservoirs for flood control each fall and early winter, then starts to capture more water than it releases in order to fill the lakes by May 1.
Hydrologists start filling Applegate a month later than Lost Creek because Applegate is a smaller reservoir in a sub-basin that tends to be more prone to flash flooding than the sub-basin upstream from Lost Creek.
The Corps currently was releasing about 1,050 cubic feet of water per second from Lost Creek into the Rogue as part of a strategy to inch closer to normal filling rates there. At Applegate, the releases were about 400 cfs, but those could grow if this weekend's rains prove stronger than forecast, Buck says.
The snow level was forecast to fall tonight from about 2,900 feet above sea level to about 1,800 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
Lost Creek's surface late Friday was listed at just shy of 1,820 feet above sea level, or 52 feet from full.
Applegate's surface late Friday was listed at a hair over 1,899 feet above sea level, or 88 feet from full.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.