Oregon’s snowpack is one of the casualties of climate change. The snowpack in Oregon is being impacted by warmer global temperatures which is causing precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow. In some areas snow measurement sites are their lowest since the 1960s.
There appears to be a trend developing. The US Drought Monitor shows drought spreading and intensifying across much of Oregon. The expectation is that 2015 will likely to be the third straight year of drought in southern parts of the state. In 2013 and 2014 Oregon experienced unusually long warm spells in January, contributing to very low snowpack.
Mountain snowpack is an essential source of water. Snow that builds up in the mountains serves as a natural reservoir, feeding streams and replenishing groundwater as it melts.They are vital for farms, fish and ski resorts. Reduced snowpacks are part of a discernable trend in recent years. The absence of snowpack also increases the incidence and severity of forest fires. Major dams are also well below normal with many basins being only 5 percent full.
“We are really kind of staring climate change right in the eye right now,” said Kathie Dello, associated director of the Oregon Climate Change Institute at Oregon State University.