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Snowpack check-up: C.O. almost on track

Published On: Mar 28 2013 09:47:04 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with Deschutes Co. engineers as they took the annual snowpack measure to find out how much snow Central Oregon has received this winter.

BEND, Ore. -

According to the latest snow survey, taken Thursday, the snowpack in Central Oregon is a little below average, but officials say it's doing fairly well.

Sticking a long, hollow tube into the snow, Deschutes Basin water engineers measured the depth of the snowpack in the Wanoga Sno-Park area.   

"The snowpack is really important, to understand how much water we're going to have for the upcoming summer," said engineer Nicholle Kovach.

Once they take down the numbers, the crew uses the data to predict streamflows on the High Desert. It's something that's crucial for farmers using the irrigation system and people in charge of the reservoirs.

"Many of the irrigation systems rely upon that supplemental stored water that we release to shore up that demand for the remainder of the season," said Deschutes Basin Watermaster Jeremy Giffin.

The crew measured the snow stuck in the bottom of the metal instrument. Kovach said one inch of snow equals one inch of water.

"By doing that, we can understand how much water content is in the snowpack," said Kovach.

With a 40 percent density of the snowpack, the experts call Thursday's measurements pretty normal. The Deschutes basin has reached about 89 percent of its 30-year average.

"We're not doing as good as we were the last couple of years," Giffin said. "However, we are very close to 100 percent of average, and all of the upper basin reservoirs are nearing capacity."

Thursday was the third and final time engineers measured the area snowpack this season, though there are automated telemetry systems throughout the state and region. The next on-the-ground survey will be the end of January 2014.

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