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NRCS handles snow depth, water reports

In years past, there would be a snow report put out by Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest showing the snow depth and water content. This was reported periodically during the winter months. I have not seen any of these reports for a while. Are they no longer recorded or reported?

— Archie M.

This is a fairly common question, Archie.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest used to contribute to a snow depth and water content report when the agency had a snow ranger position in the Siskiyou Mountain Ranger District, according to Virginia Gibbons, public affairs and partnerships staff officer with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

“We no longer have that position due to staffing cuts,” Gibbons said via email.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service operates a snow survey and water supply forecasting program in the western U.S., according to Peter Winnick, NRCS district conservationist.

“NRCS operates the SNOTEL (snowpack telemetry) network consisting of over 1,200 sites in the West,” Winnick said in an email. “These sites collect snow water content, snow depth, precipitation and temperature data and transmit it for near-real-time display on the internet.”

These data are used to develop a “statistical volumetric water supply forecast,” which show statistical relationships between snow and precipitation data at the NRCS snow measurement sites and the streamflow reading, Winnick added. Those forecasts are developed for water managers and irrigation districts to operate dams and irrigation allotments.

“NRCS does not specify how the forecasts are applied and only support data collection and availability and forecasting,” Winnick said.

The Oregon NRCS Snow Survey website is at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/or/snow. It was recently upgraded to give users access to the most up-to-date content of the snow survey and water supply forecasting program.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.