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Cliff Mass: Washington not likely to have drought problems this summer

Rain at Pike Place market in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, predicts that this summer’s water outlook for Washington state is “exceptionally favorable.”

Seattle area gets wettest start to a year in over a decade

Starting the year as the third wettest on record in the Seattle area is just one influencing factor. Mass also cites a restored snowpack that sits at more than 100 percent of normal for all of Washington, according to a map from SNOTEL, and high water levels in reservoirs across the state.

Water systems in Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma are all above normal, currently reaching levels seen in May and early June.

“Seattle has been letting out plenty of water to prevent dams from being overtopped,” Mass writes in his blog.

In a Tweet from Thurston County Sheriff during the flooding at the beginning of the month, it was reported that Tacoma Power would be increasing the water flow from the LaGrande Dam, which led to an urged evacuation for residents in the area.

Flood warnings and winter weather conditions have persisted across the region in the past week, leading to an emergency proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee for 19 Washington counties.

In an interview last year with the Dori Monson Show, Mass assured listeners there was no reason to expect a dry summer. With a wetter start to the year in 2020, the state should be on track for another mild summer.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the last time Washington saw “Extreme Drought” was at the end of 2016. In 2019, less than 20% of Washington reached level two, “Severe Drought.”

Even in Eastern Washington, where concerns of drought are higher, the Yakima River and its reservoir system reached “above normal,” now at a point as high as it was in April 2019.

Landslides, flooding persist across Puget Sound region

“And the precipitation is not over,” Mass said. ” … the latest NOAA Climate Prediction Center three month forecasts are for normal temperatures and normal to above normal precipitation over the region.”

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