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18 May 2015: Low Snowpack Raising Drought
Concerns in Oregon and Washington

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Oregon Washington snowpack

NASA Earth Observatory
Snowpack in May 2015
While drought conditions in California and the southwestern U.S. have been dominating news headlines, Oregon and Washington could also soon be facing dangerously dry conditions due to low snowpack levels, as these photos show. Although the region has seen several months with average or just-below average precipitation, unusually warm temperatures on land and offshore led to most of that moisture arriving in the form of rain rather than snow. Like many parts of the western U.S. and Canada, the Pacific Northwest depends on mountain snowpack to melt and fill streams and rivers through warmer, drier summer months. According to state officials, snowpack in Washington was just 16 percent of normal as of May 15, and yearly runoff is predicted to be at its lowest in 64 years. Average snowpack in Oregon stood at just 11 percent of normal, its lowest level since 1992.


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