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Despite late mountain snow, water outlook below average

Despite a series of early spring storms, the water supply outlook for the Spokane River remains well below average, according to the U.S. Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

Stream flow on the Spokane River at Post Falls is predicted to be at 43 percent of normal from April through September, an increase from the mid-March prediction of 41 percent of normal.

The agency on Thursday issued its April 1 stream flow forecast for Washington, which shows that the Spokane River is among the driest river basins in the state.

Snow pack was just half of normal in the Spokane River basin on April 1 but has shown a slight improvement in the past week with recent mountain snowfall. The water equivalent in the snow pack was 58 percent of normal as of today.

The low snow pack and stream flow prediction are the result of a mild and drier-than-normal winter that prevented snow from accumulating in the mountains like it normally does.

The problem traces from an El Nino warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, which moves the winter storm pattern into California.

State officials last month said they are preparing for problems associated with drought, including relief monies for sinking deeper wells or paying farmers not to grow irrigated crops.

Elsewhere in Washington, stream flows are expected to be 65 percent of normal on the Columbia River at The Dalles; 61 percent on the Yakima River at Parker; and 79 percent on the Skagit River.

North Idaho’s Pend Oreille and Kootenai rivers are expected to flow at greater than 70 percent of normal.

However, dry conditions are prevalent across southern and central Idaho as well as western Montana.

The best snow packs in the western U.S. are found in southern Utah, Arizona and western New Mexico where some accumulations are greater than 200 percent of normal.

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