This morning’s meager accumulation notwithstanding, this hasn’t been a noteworthy winter in Baker City.
Not much snow.
And no below-zero temperatures.
It is much more like its immediate predecessor than like the winter of 2016-17, when snowdrifts in town topped 2 feet and temperatures plummeted to 25 below zero.
But the situation this winter is quite different in the mountains.
At most measuring sites around the Elkhorn, Wallowa and Blue mountains the water content in the snowpack is near or above average.
And at every station the snowpack is deeper than it was a year ago.
The mountain snowpack is a key reservoir for municipal water supplies as well as irrigation and recreation.
Water district managers have said an ample snowpack is especially important this winter because the drought of 2018 depleted reservoirs and dried up streams and springs that usually flow year round.
Generally speaking the Elkhorns are faring better than the Wallowas this winter.
At Eilertson Meadow, for instance, along Rock Creek west of Haines, the water content today was 9.8 inches. That’s 21 percent above average, and more than double the water content from a year ago.
Statistics are similar at two other sites in the southern Elkhorns — Bourne, about 6 miles north of Sumpter, and Gold Center near Granite.
The snowpack is more modest in the northern part of the Elkhorns.
Snow surveyors measured a water content of 12.5 inches in a meadow near Anthony Lake. That’s 21 percent below average, but slightly better than a year ago.
(The Anthony Lakes, Dooley Mountain and Little Alps measurements were made on Jan. 31, and don’t take into account new snow that fell during the weekend.)
In the Wallowas the water content is lower in the northern part of the range — 27 percent below average at Aneroid Lake — to exactly average at Moss Springs above Cove.