PORTLAND, Ore. — Snow has been falling in the Cascades for the past couple of days, with Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows getting nearly four feet of fresh snow. Despite the incredible amount of April snowfall, Oregon still has less snowpack in the mountains right now compared to this time last year. In fact, much of the state is looking at a snow deficit despite the recent storms.
Scott Oviatt, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said there was optimism earlier in the season about the snowfall levels across the state, back in the last few weeks of December and into early January.
"Then the valve shut off," Oviatt said.
The gains made in December and early January started to disappear during several weeks in February where there was little to no snow in the mountains.
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The latest series of storms have helped, but it’s not enough, Oviatt said. Many parts of the state remain below normal this year for snowpack.
The problem last year, Oviatt said, was the rapid melt-off that started in the second week of April. He said the longer it takes for things to thaw this year, the better off the state will be.
"The snowpack is dense, which means it's right near that melting point or melting underneath," he said. "So it's going to take colder temperatures to maintain it for a longer period."
Much of Oregon, more than 90% of the state, is under a drought except a pocket of the northwest side, including the Portland metro area. It’s really bad in southern and eastern Oregon, which have been in a drought for the past couple of years.
Oviatt said he’s not concerned about the metro area but said the southeast side of Oregon will face water shortages later this summer.