On this first day of spring, we get a seasonal outlook from the National Weather Service. It calls for a warmer-than-average spring west of the Cascades and normal temperatures and rainfall across the inland Northwest. There's also no let-up seen for drought conditions in California, and parts of Oregon and southwest Idaho. Correspondent Tom Banse has more.
The strongest signal to emerge from the Weather Service climate models foreshadows above-normal temperatures along the West Coast. Jon Gottschalck is a forecaster at the national Climate Prediction Center. He says the spring outlook includes little prospect for meaningful drought relief.
"If the drought persists as predicted in the West and Southwest, it will likely result in an active wildfire season, continue to stress crops and livestock due to low water levels and an expansion of water conservation measures are likely," said Gottschalck.
A freshly updated drought map prepared by the federal Agriculture Department classifies southwest Idaho and 95 percent of Oregon under moderate to severe drought. On the other hand, the current snowpack in the Northern Cascades and Northern Rockies is at or above normal, boding well for hydropower production and Columbia River basin irrigators.
On Wednesday, Jackson County's Board of Commissioners declared a local drought emergency. The southern Oregon county hopes this leads to a state drought disaster designation, which makes it easier to process temporary water rights transfers or tap groundwater.
Seasonal drought outlook:
Drought monitor map - U.S. West (USDA):
NWS Climate Prediction Center:
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