Outside of Summit, snowpack levels concerning across Colorado
Summit County has been one of few exceptions to a dry year for Colorado that has water managers worried around the state.
According to officials with the Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey Office in Denver, Colorado’s mountain snowpack through January has made it increasingly difficult to find promising water supply outlooks for spring and summer.
Actual observed snowpack values did not decrease over January, but the snowpack percentages of normal in every basin across the state declined, in some cases drastically.
The combined Yampa/White watersheds saw the lowest snow accumulation in the calculated period of record back to 1986.
According to statewide SNOTEL data, 1986 was the only drier January going back 29 years. January 1992 saw the same snow accumulation totals as this January with an increase of only 1.4 inches of snow water equivalent.
“With nearly one third of the winter remaining, Colorado is running short of time to catch up,” said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey supervisor. “Statewide snowfall would need to amount to 124 percent of normal from now until mid-April to achieve normal snowpack peak levels.”
Watersheds that still retain an above-normal snowpack include the Blue River Basin at 122 percent as well as a few other sub-watersheds within the Colorado and South Platte River basins.
The month of April typically provides the most mountain precipitation at 3.6 inches, followed by March at 3.4 inches and January comes in third highest at 3.2 inches.
This January provided only 1.4 inches of mountain precipitation, 45 percent of the average.
The South Platte saw the greatest precipitation totals compared to normal at 62 percent of average.
Statewide reservoir storage is only slightly below where it was last month, down one percentage point to 104 percent of average.
The South Platte, combined Yampa, White and North Platte and Colorado River basins are riding higher than normal on carry over storage from the 2014 water year at 119 percent, 117 percent and 116 percent of average respectively.
As always, spring and summer outlooks for streamflow volumes vary greatly across the state, but the bulk are below normal between 60 percent and 85 percent of average.
For more information about Colorado’s snowpack or supporting water supply related information, go to the Colorado Snow Survey website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/co/snow/ or contact Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor, at Brian.Domonkos@mt.usda.gov or 720-544-2852.
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