Lack Of Snow Causing Issues For Yakima Basin Snowpack - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Lack Of Snow Causing Issues For Yakima Basin Snowpack

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YAKIMA, WA.- Wednesday's mild temperatures threatened to set new records, and this winter as a whole, has been unusually mild and spring like.

Bonair Vineyard in Zillah and other local farms saw a record crop this past year, but with below average snowfall, what does that mean for the Yakima basin snowpack, something local growers depend on each year for their crops.

The warm almost spring like weather hardly makes it feel like it's mid February, but according to the Yakima Bureau of Reclamation that's not great news for the snowpack in the upper Yakima river basin.

The snowpack helps irrigate our farms, orchards and vineyards during the summer months.

“What we call snow water equivalent, the water that's held in the snow, is down about 35 percent of average so it's pretty low right now,” Chris Lynch, with the Bureau of Reclamation told KNDO.

In a typical year the snowpack will provide enough water to fill irrigation systems through June, after that, water is pulled from reservoirs to meet demand for the rest of the season.

But local vineyard owner Gale Puryear says everyone will have to keep a close eye on how much water they're using this summer.

“Well last summer we had lots of water and no one really cared, but this year people are going to care and they're going to watch how we use it and we won't be able to waste any,” Puryear said.

Puryear also told us the warmer weather could affect how early crops start budding, meaning growers will spend a lot of extra money on frost protection if the cold weather comes back.

But he says he's not too worried yet, he's seen plenty of late winter storms revive the snowpack in previous years.

”Most snow has been coming late in the season. The last two years we've had late snows, so that's good news and we can hope it'll happen again.”

The Bureau of Reclamation told us they will be releasing their projected summer forecast on water supply for local growers the first week of March.

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