February was Oregon's fourth-driest ever, and while a wet spring could ease the below- normal snowpack, long-range forecasts are for at least a dry March.
About a quarter inch of precipitation (.27 inches) was recorded in February at the National Weather Service Forecast Office near the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton. The normal for the month is 1.22 inches.
Snow levels, meanwhile, continue to drop across much of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Oregon is at 35 percent of normal statewide, and a little less locally. Washington is down the farthest, with a statewide snowpack at 27 percent of normal.
Just 1.2 inches of snow was recorded in February at the Pendleton airport, about one-third of normal. So far this year, 3.9 inches have fallen in Pendleton, compared to 8.4 inches in a normal year. Only 5.1 inches of snow have fallen at the airport all winter, down 11 inches from the normal, according to the National Weather Service.
The region's snowpack is even more dismal. Lisa Krieger, irrigation system operator for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said snow surveyors measured 25 inches of snow Monday at Tollgate, with a water content of 8 inches. The 30-year average is a water content of 24.5 inches.
At Meacham, surveyors measured 4.3 inches of snow, up from none at the end of December and January. The water content there was 1.3 inches, 15 percent of the 30-year average of 8.5 inches.
Rain and snow accumulation usually peak in April and determine water available for river runoff until autumn rains begin. The Weather Service's long-range forecast calls for above-normal temperatures and normal precipitation in northeast Oregon through May.