March 1, 2014 6:01 a.m.
Cheers: Assessing a winter's snowpack in early January is a bit like walking out of a movie halfway through and then writing a review — you don't have the complete picture. Still, people who assess such things and were worried several weeks ago now have some good news: Storms have replenished mountainsides throughout the region.In the Lower Columbia basin of Southwest Washington, mountain snowpack was at 31 percent of normal as of Jan. 7. Some six weeks later, it had grown to 83 percent of normal, eliciting a sigh of relief from hydrologists. For a region that is dependent upon water, this turnaround has been essential. The snowpack, when it melts during spring and summer, is crucial to ecology, agriculture, and power generation — in other words, the things that drive the local economy. Every bit of snowfall in the mountains eventually pays dividends down below.