Runoff (snowpack) news

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From The Pueblo Chieftian (Matt Hildner):

The end result of the lingering pattern has been above-normal precipitation for Alamosa. The town saw 1.17 inches of precipitation in May compared with its normal total of 0.7 inches. In the northwestern corner of the valley near La Garita, volunteer spotters recorded rainfall 16 days in a row, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Although three of those days registered only trace amounts of precipitation, the period saw more than 2 inches of precipitation in the area…

Craig Cotten, division engineer for the valley, said the rains combined with the early runoff has allowed Platoro Reservoir to spill for the first time in a few years. Downstream, all of the decreed ditches on the Conejos River have been served.

Cotten noted that a potential downside to continued rain might be a revision of the delivery schedule for the Rio Grande Compact, which forces the state to send larger amounts of water downstream in wet years. Cotten said he still was waiting on the June forecast from the Natural Resources Conservation Service before he could make any determination on whether the delivery requirements would change.

For potato growers, who contribute nearly $200 million annually to the valley’s economy, the steady rains have been a mixed blessing. Jim Ehrlich, director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in Monte Vista, said the rains may keep farmers from doing weed control, although he added it was too early to tell how weeds might affect crop yields. The cooler temperatures that have come with the rains also may slow the crop’s development.

From the Greeley Tribune:

May’s weather was slightly warmer and drier than average which, coupled with numerous layers of dust on the snowpack, has led to a rapid depletion of higher-elevation snowpack statewide, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service. The statewide snowpack dipped to only 32 percent of average on June 1, after recording 90 percent of average on May 1. The state’s maximum snowpack was reached on April 19, and was 109 percent of the average maximum snowpack…

For most of the state, this summer’s water supplies are expected to be near average. However, there are several areas of the state which failed to receive enough moisture during the winter and spring to assure near average runoff volumes, particularly in southwestern Colorado. In addition, a number of other smaller basins across southern Colorado in the Rio Grande and Arkansas basins, as well as the headwaters of the South Platte River, are expected to produce below average runoff volumes this summer.

From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

In Dillon, where Denver Water tracks precipitation and temperatures, May brought 2.12 inches of precipitation, compared to the historic average of 1.44 inches…

In Breckenridge, weather-watcher Rick Bly maintains weather records that date back more than 100 years. For May, Bly measured 2.63 inches of precipitation — 52 percent more than the historic average 1.72 inches. But snowfall for the month was below average. Normally, Breckenridge sees 10.9 inches of the white stuff, this year, only 6.2 inches fell in May. For the weather year, beginning Oct. 1, both snowfall and precipitation are very close to the historic average. “That doesn’t happen very often,” Bly said. “We’ve had 162.26 inches of snow. The average from Oct. 1 through May 31 is 162.67.” Water-wise, that historic average equals 14.3 inches. Bly has measured 14.39 inches at his backyard weather gauge for this current water year…

For most of the state, this summer’s water supplies are expected to be near average. Reservoir storage increased significantly during May as the early snowmelt boosted inflows. Storage has improved to above-average levels nearly statewide and is ahead of last year’s totals on this date in all basins. With statewide storage volumes at 116 percent of average, these are the best storage statistics since 1999. For the Colorado River Basin, the June 1 snowpack was only at 31 percent of average for the date because of the early snowmelt. But reservoir storage was at 112 percent of average. The Front Range also experienced a wet month, bringing moisture totals to near average after a dry winter. Denver Water’s reservoirs east of the Continental Divide are currently full, so no water is currently being diverted from Dillon Reservoir to the Front Range.

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