PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Drought is baggage that we do not want to carry into another summer — but for most of the state, it’s already too late.

Where is all this April water going? Why are so many locations still deprived even with a lucrative spring snow season?

When we look at a drought map, we see different shades of dry (brown, yellow, orange, and red). These locations are dealing with different levels of drought. Whether they’re meteorological, agricultural, or hydrological, they’re all coming together to create serious concerns for the state of Oregon and our surrounding domain in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

We have recently been cool and wet in the northern Willamette Valley. This surge of moisture throughout the month of April has been beneficial for many around the Portland metro area — but it hasn’t necessarily banked a rainy day fund for points south and east.

It should be noted that the mountain snow and cool weather this month have helped many, if not all, basins across the state. We started the month of April in dire need of cool and wet weather. Thankfully, Mother Nature complied.

You can use the slideshow below to see the rain departure for some of the large cities across the state of Oregon. You will find that the northern cities are either above- or close to above-average going back to the start of the water year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not experiencing drought conditions. A case in point would be The Dalles and Pendleton, which are still in regions that are struggling mightily for moisture.

It’s obvious that, although the water has been flowing for April, the state is nested in a larger problem. This is why we have rising concerns heading into the summer.

Let’s check out the current state of the water year by locations across the state of Oregon. The Willamette Valley has faired much better in the winter and spring months compared to those areas east of the Cascades and south of Marion county.

Portland has had a successful fall and winter, bringing in more moisture than the 30-year average. Although both February and March, turned out below average, they were not far from the standard goal. When we factor in all the water that has moved through this April, Portland is floating above water and has a positive departure of over two inches.

The northwest quadrant of Oregon was dealing with drought at times — but it was not as significant as the other portions of the state. Due to the high volume of fall, winter and now spring water, we have been fortunate enough to lift the local drought concerns (for now).

Due to the nature of our local topography, some locations naturally have a tough time getting water because of the massive mountains and rain shadows that develop. Those are the locations that have been struggling beyond one hopeful wet season.


It is clear that central, eastern, southern, and out to the high desert areas of Oregon, are all in need of some real help.

With the way each storm system has been set up throughout the winter and fall, they have not been as beneficial for the other areas of the state. It has been extremely difficult getting moisture to areas of Baker, Harney, Klamath and Lake counties.

The storm track has been heavily targeting areas of the Washington and Oregon coast. The carryover moisture has then provided areas of the northern Willamette Valley and the northern Cascades with an ample amount of water. We need a few atmospheric rivers to hone in on southern Oregon and northern California, to reach those trouble spots below.

Take the time to digest some of the monthly rainfall totals going back to the start of the water year for each of the drought-hurt areas below. Klamath Fall is coming in at nearly three and a half inches below the average rainfall. They have only picked up five inches of rain, with nearly 50% of the water year coming in October.




Although we haven’t had a lot of rain spreading across the whole state, we have at least been busy in some other areas. That water will hopefully be enough to help out during the wildfire season or during other necessities this summer.

We are currently feeling positive about the next week, as conditions are likely to stay active in the Pacific Northwest. If you follow the weather pattern flow below, you will notice plenty of drops in the jet stream, pushing masses of blue and purple to the PNW. This is going to be an array of storm systems that have the potential to bring in more rain showers.

Unfortunately, most will focus on the areas of Washington and Oregon that are doing better already. However, some of that water may make it to the parched sections of the state, which is all we can hope for right now.

You will notice that the forecast rain total graphic below, which is a mid-range to long-term weather model, is painting more water across the whole state. It is being bold with some of the locations, for it is unlikely that we have as much of the blue category of .5-1.5 inches for locations like Prineville and Baker City. It is definitely likely that the Washington and Oregon coasts do pick up close to 1.5-2.50 inches of water by early May.

What can be taken as a positive, is that the moisture is reaching a lot of the Cascades too. This is valuable for adding more snow and also keeping the snow up there longer as temperatures remain cool.

Will the next week be enough to add a little more to the snow water equivalent? I think that is possible for the areas that have already reaped the benefits (like the Mt. Hood area.)

According to Henry Pai with the National Weather Services’ Northwest River Forecast Center, the water supply outlook for April-September is leaning towards a higher probability of lower precipitation and higher temperatures. Our fingers crossed we have a well-behaved wildfire season, as we try again next fall, winter, and spring for more water.