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2014 precipitation improved, but not great, in Southern Oregon

Grants Pass Daily Courier

The year 2014 ended with a slight rebound from a historically dry 2013, but snowpack is still lagging in the mountains.

The statewide average of water content in the snowpack is 52 percent, slightly above the dismal pace of 2013-14, which had a historically low snowpack, according to Julie Koeberle, hydrologist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Portland.

All the basins in western Oregon are under 50 percent. Had it not snowed more than 2 feet in northern Oregon just after Christmas, the results would be much worse statewide.

"That shows how much impact one storm can have," Koeberle said. "Saturday, Sunday and Monday made up for lost time."

Southern Oregon also got some much-needed snow, but the snowpack is still only 31 percent of average in the Rogue-Umpqua basins.

Koeberle said reservoir storage in early December fell to record lows, and has slightly improved. She and other water-watchers are hoping for a cold and wet January through April.

"Two consecutive low snow years does not bode well for water supplies," Koeberle said.

Koeberle said the problem this winter has been warm storms, as all of the Cascade Mountain snow survey sites are above normal for precipitation.

"That helped some of the reservoir storage," she said. "We're a lot wetter than we were last year."