Recent series of storms has upside

PORTLAND, Ore. -- High water, trees falling over, power going out; it's all part of stormy weather.

But there's an upside.

The costly mess many people are dealing with from our latest rounds of gusty wind and drenching rain may save us when it comes to a summer drought.

Julie Koeberle is a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Services. She measures the water content of the mountain snowpack.

She bubbles with excitement when she talks about the inches of rain in the valley, and the feet of new snow in the mountains.

"I think it's great, any improvement is great", Koeberle says.

"With the dry conditions we've had up until February, we were all starting to worry, hydrologists, water managers, recreation managers, anybody who uses water, all us were worried."

There's still reason to be concerned, she says.

The recent series of storms has increased the mountain snowpack. The run-off fills local reservoirs in the spring and summer, from 25 percent of normal to more than 50 percent of normal across the region.

"We don't expect to be normal this year, but we need to be from 60 to 70 percent of average to really keep us out of a drought situation this summer," said Koeberle.

Looking at the latest maps, Koeberle says in the past two years, the snow pack has been below average, but a wet spring kept us from going through a summer drought.

"We can't count on that, but that's part of what we need", she says.

"And about two more months of storms like we've had in February, about 200 percent of the rain we usually see, it's not always good for smiling faces from people waiting for warm, sunny spring days, but it's good for corn, potatoes, and things like that."