Snowpack is better, but still not good

So what has all this February snow done for our snowpack? Are we out of the woods in terms of a possible drought?

— Linda, Medford

Linda, we at Since You Asked Central also noticed the constant barrage of snowstorms this past month and a quick call to Julie Koeberle, the snow goddess of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service's Oregon snow survey program, proves it.

The Rogue-Umpqua basin snowpack that entered February at 35 percent of average had jumped to 54 percent of average on March 1, Koeberle says.

"We've had a significant improvements with the snowpack in the past month, and that's true around the state,'" Koeberle says. "We're still below normal, but we were in such a deficit. It's really amazing."

The statewide snowpack now is 66 percent of average, with northern and northeastern basins helping to offset the drier southern drainages, Koeberle says. And most of that has come in the second half of February, she says.

"We've seen about half of our sites seeing their snowpacks double in the past two weeks," Koeberle says.

Still, it will take a mega-month of snow in March to push totals close to average.

The snowpack is important for skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and other snow-sports enthusiasts. But for the long haul, how the snowpack translates into stream flows is what snow geeks really pay attention to.

Koeberle says the streamflow estimates based on the newly reconstituted snowpack have yet to be developed.

"Even so, I'm expecting the streamflow forecasts will see some improvements, but still below normal for summer," Koeberle says.

The snow people say the real snowpack number to work off is April 1, so stay tuned, Linda.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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