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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 13, 2010

WATER SHORTAGES MAY HIT NORTHERN ROCKIES

USA TODAY - Much of the nation may be snow-weary, but farmers and ranchers who rely on winter snowpack in the northern Rockies for irrigation during the dry months of the growing season could face water shortages this summer unless more snow arrives soon.

Wet spring and summer conditions in 2008 and 2009 helped pull the region out of a decade-long drought, but now hydrologists are once again reporting below-average mountain snowpack throughout much of the northern Rockies.

As of early March, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, snowpack was at or near record-low levels in many locations from northeastern Utah northward along and near the Idaho border with Montana and Wyoming.

In Spokane, Wash., the winter of 2009-10 has been the least snowy on record, with a mere 13.7 inches of snowfall recorded so far, according to the National Weather Service. The city usually gets more than 46 inches of snow each winter. Experts are concerned that it could be a long summer for irrigators unless the region experiences the kinds of snowfalls that have buried other parts of the country in recent weeks.

"There's not much time to make it up," said hydrologist Phil Morrisey of the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Idaho. "Even an abundant snowfall in March would be unlikely to make much of a difference this late in the season."


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