Unseasonably warm and dry conditions are concerns for hay growers in the western U.S. who rely on surface water runoff from mountain snow for irrigation. The February 1 snow survey conducted by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) showed snowpack throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range at 27 percent of normal. The same story of low snowpack is being reported in the entire West.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has not made an initial surface water allocation for Central California, but DWR made an initial surface water allocation of 20 percent of normal in late January for state water project contractors.

The positive for some areas of the West is that after heavy snow and rain last winter, the amount of water in reservoirs was above normal. In California, water storage at 154 reservoirs on February 1, 2018, was 106 percent of normal. Additionally, there is still a chance of more snow and rain in the next two months.

Seth Hoyt

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.