Central Oregon still dealing with ‘exceptional’ drought in some areas, despite recent rain and snowfall
(Update: Adding video, comments by watermaster)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon is still in a drought, and in some places an exceptional drought, despite recent wet and snowy weather, according to various measurements such as the Oregon Drought Monitor and the latest look at Central Oregon reservoirs from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's "Teacup Diagram."
According to the latest Oregon Drought Monitor, much of Crook County is in an "exceptional" drought, which is the worst stage. Not far behind are Deschutes and Jefferson counties, which show some areas still being in the "severe drought" zone.
Reservoirs are still low, and even though the latest SNOTEL telemetry readings show Central Oregon has above average snow-water content for the season so far, we're still below the normal median total precipitation for the water year to date.
"I think three of our reservoirs in the Deschutes River Basin are at or near historical low levels at this point" Deschutes Basin Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said Wednesday. "This is due to several years of prolonged drought. Wickiup Reservoir, our largest reservoir in the basin, which stores 200,000 acre-feet of water, is actually at 40% of where it should be at this time of year."
But if the winter months continue to bring above-average snow and rain to Central Oregon, could that potentially bring a one-winter-fix-all situation? Giffin isn't so optimistic.
"While it's been promising out there with the storms, we still expect drought conditions to continue for the summer of 2023" Giffin said.
So what can you do to preserve water, especially in the summer months? Giffin says to xeroscape your yard.
"The best way to conserve water is probably with lawns, irrigating, to cut back and xerocape those areas. The vast majority of water in the summertime that the city goes through is for outdoor purposes."