Snowpack still above average

Snowpack remains above average according to recent numbers from the National Resources Conservation Service. The much-needed moisture will help restore depleted water stores from last year’s drought. NRCS

RBC | March snowpack improvements showcase the impressive changes but equally noteworthy are current snowpack totals for the water year beginning on Oct. 1. Snowpack observation points within the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan combined basins indicate 157% of median, while snowpack in the Gunnison, Arkansas, Rio Grande and Colorado indicate 150, 149, 145 and 130% of median respectively.

Snowpack in the Yampa, White and North Platte basins is above normal at 120% of the median. Precipitation for March was 151% of average and water year-to-date precipitation is 116% of average. Reservoir storage at the end of March was 103% of average compared to 129% last year. Current streamflow forecasts range from 107% of average for the Little Snake River near Dixon to 129% for the North Platte River near Northgate.

“Current snowpack values in some individual basins on April 1, 2019, translate to nearly double or triple levels seen during this same time last year,” comments Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Services. These improvements over last year are welcomed in restoring water supplies significantly depleted after last year’s drought. Similar to snowpack March precipitation was particularly impressive which amounted to 183 percent of average for the state.

Water year to date precipitation across the state is now 123 percent of average. Precipitation totals in the Gunnison and combined southwest basins are no less impressive each at 133 percent of average for the water year to date.

By the numbers March is typically the second wettest month of the year in Colorado meaning accumulations this March were particularly impactful. While reservoir storage levels across the state have seen little increase in recent months current snowpack levels are poised to increase storage levels across much of the state as the snow begins to melt. Most volumetric streamflow forecasts into spring and summer range from 100 to 150% of normal. Basins that have the highest forecasts, namely in Southern Colorado, are those that had the least streamflow last year, which should be particularly beneficial for water supply conditions in those areas.

For more detailed information about April 1 mountain snowpack refer to the April 1, 2019 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report (https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/states/co/wsor/borco419.pdf). For the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/co/snow/).

Special to the Herald Times

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