USDA hydrologists predict a dry spring and summer in the West after less-than-average precipitation in February continues a dry trend.

Streamflow forecasts – predicting the amount of precipitation and mountain snow to flow into streams, rivers and other channels – are made by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Weather and Climate Center. The March 1 forecast is for below-average mountain snowpack in much of the West. Compared to February’s forecast, water supplies decreased 5-10% in Washington and Oregon; 10-20% in Montana, Idaho and Utah; and 10-15% in Colorado.

“With only one month remaining in the snow season, it’s highly unlikely the snowpack will recover to normal levels over the Four Corner States (Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico),” NRCS hydrologist Tom Perkins says.

Water supplies are likely to end up below average for most western rivers, and water resource managers need to begin preparing for the shortage, Perkins says.

Not all Western states are dry, however. Near-normal water levels are expected across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and western Montana.

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