Lest the gray monotony of the South Sound’s late-winter rain showers become too much of a downer, consider the water supply.
A state Department of Ecology report released Tuesday said the amount of water stored in Washington’s mountain snowpack is the most in years, at 120 percent of normal.
A year ago, after one of the wettest winters recorded, the measurement was 108 percent, but a sudden warm spell melted much of it.
The snow level was just 25 percent of normal in 2015, which the Ecology Department refers to as “the year of the snowpack drought.”
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Tuesday’s report predicts more rain — and snow in the mountains — will fall through this month, and says year-to-date precipitation totals have more than made up for the cold, dry January weather.
The upshot of all this is that after a couple of years of uneven water supply levels and drought alerts, the amount of water available to the state’s users looks to be in line with historical norms.
In addition to the snowpack, this can be seen in the rivers, streams and reservoirs, many of which report good indications.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages five reservoirs in the Yakima River basin, released a water supply forecast March 6 predicting full supplies for senior water users and a 96 percent supply for holders of junior water rights.
Locally, Tacoma Public Utilities hasn’t released a forecast for its 2017 water supply, but the snowpack at the Lynn Lake Snotel — which Tacoma Water uses as an indicator for how its supply is doing — is at 74 inches, or 112 percent of its annual average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The higher-than-normal snowpack isn’t all good news, because more melting snow can bring more flooding, especially in rivers east of the Cascades. The NOAA’s spring outlook and flood risk forecast are due out later this week.