Columbia River Calling

Basin Maps, Pt 9 – 2015 Columbia River Basin Snowpack Conditions and Streamflow Forecasts

I’ve been bad at blogging the past few months as I get into the weeds of my dissertation. As my grandmother said over the holidays, “I haven’t gotten a blog post from you in a while.” So I thought I would try to be better at posting in 2015. To start here is another installment of my Basin Maps series. Previous installments are available here. I’ve already done a post on snow in the basin, but as many folks in the US Pacific Northwest head off in search of snow to enjoy over the holiday weekend, I thought it appropriate to highlight a couple of maps illustrating 2015 snowpack conditions and streamflow forecasts for the Columbia River Basin.

Columbia River and Pacific Coastal Basins Mountain Snowpack as of January 1, 2015

 

Description: This map displays the percentage of snowpack present on January 1, 2015 relative to the median snowpack in the US from 1981-2010 or average snowpack in British Columbia from 1981-2010. You will notice that in most of the basin we have less snow than what we typically have at this time in previous years. For example, in the Cascades in Oregon we have less than 50% of the snow

Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Date: January 7, 2015

What is unique: There are lots of snowpack maps of prior years and projections for the future. This map shows (almost) current conditions.

What’s missing: I’m assuming the dots represent SNOTEL sites. It would be nice if the map noted that.

Columbia River and Pacific Coastal Basins Spring and Summer Streamflow Forecasts as of January 1, 2015

Columbia River and Pacific Coastal Basins Spring and Summer Streamflow Forecasts as of January 1, 2015

Description: This map displays streamflow projections as of January 1, 2015. NRCS uses data on snowpack and precipitation and prediction models to create the forecast. Therefore the modelers are comparing the conditions this year to the conditions previous years in order to see what streamflow conditions might look like.

Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service

Date: January 7, 2015

What is unique: Once again, these are the most up-to-date predictions for streamflow.

What’s missing: I’m once again assuming what the dots are (in this case probably USGS stream gage locations), but I wish it was labeled on the map. I also wish I knew if the dots represent total volume of flow or something else.

Check out the USDA’s blog post that explains the maps and what they mean in greater detail.

 

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