YAKIMA — Irrigation water has begun flowing at lower Yakima Valley farms, and there should be plenty through the growing season because of better-than-normal snowpack in the Cascade Range.
Moderate drought last year resulted in restrictions on junior water-right holders and some crop losses, the Capital Press reported.
Washington’s statewide snowpack was 104% of normal on March 30 compared to 47% on Dec. 27 and 80% a year ago, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“Things are looking good considering how the season started out. Some people were ready to declare drought on Jan. 1,” said Scott Pattee, the NRCS state water-supply specialist in Mount Vernon.
Twice the normal amount of snowfall fell in January and enough snow continued in February and March to maintain a slightly above normal snowpack, Pattee said.
“Port Angeles and Sequim got more low elevation snow this year than any place in the state,” Pattee said.
The April 1 through September streamflow forecast is normal to slightly above normal, Pattee said. The April through June weather outlook, from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, is for below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures, he said.
“It will be a warm, dry spring, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a faster runoff. We have to look at wind and sun. If we have cloudy days it will slow the runoff,” Pattee said. “So far, the National Weather Service is not forecasting any spring flooding.”