Snow pack is low, but the recent storm was great for White Pass - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Snow pack is low overall but the recent storm was great for White Pass

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YAKIMA, Wash- Although we've had a wet couple of days it's been a relatively dry winter so far throughout Central and Eastern Washington. While less rain and snowfall might be nice for people on the road there are businesses that depend on winter weather to turn a profit and even more than that we count on the snow and rain to get us through the rest of the year. 

If you think snow's only necessary for winter sports think again. Eighty percent of the water in lakes, springs, and rivers comes from melted snow pack.

"It refills and regenerates our reservoirs its what keeps our rivers running full and it keeps fresh water supplies running to us", says Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Washington is only at 80% of it's average snow pack Yakima's doing better at about 85% but the Columbia Basin is only at 63%. However experts say there's no cause for concern yet.  But if the snowfall doesn't improve that could cause a shortage of irrigation water.

"It could mean economically to a rancher or farmer the difference between two or three cuttings of hay" compares Pattee.

For the ski resorts the weather has caused a dismal start to the season.  Even mount hood which usually always has snow, is only at half of it's average snowfall.

The news isn't all bad though, this recent storm gave relief to at least four Washington resorts.

"I would say that today will be one of our top days ever", predicted Kathleen Goyette, of White Pass Ski Area.

White pass has picked up over 32 inches of snow since Wednesday and people have been flocking to the mountain.

"There's a lot of pent-up demand, everyone made their way up today", adds Goyette.

That's a far cry from Wednesday when they actually had to close in the middle of their busiest season because of wind and rain.  White pass estimates it had about 3,500 skiers in the last 24 hours.

"It's a great jump start into the heart of the season", Goyette says hopefully.

There are some forecasts predicting below average temperatures  and above average precipitation over the next three months meaning good snow.  However there's also a forecast saying the first half of January will be drier and warmer.

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