Snow pack at lowest level in three years

Author: Jeff Humphrey, KXLY4 Reporter , jeffhu@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 22 2013 07:25:37 PM PST
Skiing at Lookout Pass
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

The watershed that serves Lake Coeur d' Alene and the Spokane River is sitting at 79-percent of what's considered normal, it's lowest level in three years.

You might be able to blame the lack of snow on the jet stream but Mark Beattie, a manager at Mountain Gear, is ready to dive on his ski pole and take full responsibility.

"The theory is proven. I bought a pair of big fat skis and the day that I got them was the last day we had a good snowfall," he explained.

Our snow season started out strong enough with some ski resorts opening in time for Thanksgiving but around New Years the really storms started missing our mountains.

"Overall, we've noticed a significant lack of motivation for people to go skiing because there hasn't been new, soft snow," Beattie said.

Resorts and ski shops aren't the only outfits missing the fresh power. Avista would like to see a little more snow on the mountain tops as well.

"For Avista when we have good snow pack and river flows it's good for our customers so we can put more water through the turbines out our dams so we can make electricity for them," Anna Scarlett with Avista said.

A good snow pack can also literally float your boat because, after drier winters, Avista is sometimes forced to begin drawing down Lake Coeur d' Alene to help fish and waterfalls down stream.

"There's a couple of things that could happen with the recreation season. We could be able to close our gates at the post falls dam and open the boat ramp at post falls to get boaters in the water. But potentially, that could also mean later in the summer we've got lower levels in Lake Coeur d' Alene," Scarlett said.

On the other hand it was snowing an inch an hour Friday at 4th of July Pass much to the delight of local businesses.

"Does a big dump like this translate into bigger sales for the store? I certainly hope so. Yes typically it does and everything's on sale, so that helps too," Beattie said.

Although our snowiest months are still behind us the long range forecast calls for an average amount of precipitation and combined with Friday's storm is pushing up closer to a normal snow pack.