Runoff (precipitation) news: Tom Kleinschnitz, ‘Anytime you have Cataract Canyon at over 30,000 cfs, [it is] a great water year’

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dave Buchanan):

“It’s a great water year,” said the always enthusiastic Tom Kleinschnitz of Adventure Bound River Expeditions in Grand Junction. “Anytime you have Cataract Canyon at over 30,000 cfs, it’s a great water year.”[…]

The Yampa River on Friday was running at 3,620 cubic feet per second at Deer Lodge Park. The San Juan near Bluff, Utah, was up to 1,500 cfs. And here at home, the Colorado River was hurtling through Grand Junction at 16,700 cfs, plenty high even though down a bit from the 20,000 cfs flows of last week. That’s about 5,000 cfs higher than the 58-year average, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey…

As that early runoff began to fill the state’s reservoirs, water managers nervously eyed water levels creeping higher and higher. Usually, runoff is spread over two or three months, giving managers time to gradually release stored water to keep up with runoff. This year, though, reservoirs topped out early, even as cool temperatures returned, extending the state’s runoff season. “May’s inflow into Blue Mesa Reservoir was 158 percent of average while June’s inflow was only 78 percent of average,” said Dan Crabtree, lead hydrologist with the Bureau of Reclamation in Grand Junction…

“Some people are calling it a ‘Twin Peaks’ runoff,” said Kara Lamb of the Bureau’s Eastern Colorado office, which oversees Green Mountain and Ruedi reservoirs. “We’ve been saying runoff started and then cooler weather would slow it down. It’s almost as if runoff is running about three weeks behind.”[…]

“We were at maximum power production and bypass releases at Crystal and with last week’s rain we weren’t sure what exactly was going to happen,” Crabtree said. “Crystal spilled in May and came within three-quarters of an inch of spilling last weekend, and Blue Mesa was within about three inches of spilling.”

More coverage from the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

For June, the National Weather Service site near Dillon Reservoir recorded 2.09 inches of rain, well above the historic average of 1.14 inches for the month…

In Breckenridge, weather watcher Rick Bly tallied the 12th-wettest June on record, with 2.27 inches of precipitation, 64 percent above average. Bly said the notable statistic was the number of rainy days in June — 22 — compared to an average of eight. For the weather year-to-date (beginning Oct. 1), Bly said moisture is about 5.5 percent above average…

Summit County could be on track for plentiful summer moisture, with an emerging El Niño (warmer than average eastern Pacific) potentially boosting moisture late summer, according to Klaus Wolter, a climate researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The cyclical variation in the Pacific doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of summer thunderstorms, but can push more moisture into the southern Rockies at the tail end of summer, he said. “El Niño is on the march. In general, it’s kind of good for us,” Wolter said, explaining that, in the past 10 years, abundant moisture in September and October coincided with El Niño conditions.

More coverage from Elizabeth Miller writing for the Boulder Daily Camera:

Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, Erie and Superior all use computer-automated systems, some that are wirelessly linked to weather stations, to reduce water use as cued by weather patterns. Those systems can even shut off sprinklers when rain starts to fall. “There’s some really cool new technology that just gets more water delivered to where it belongs,” said Paul Bousquet, Boulder Parks and Recreation spokesman.

For April and May, the city budgeted 54.75 million gallons to water baseball fields, parks and golf courses, but only used 6.18 million gallons — about one-tenth of what was allotted…

Three strategically-placed weather stations in Boulder and a network of weather information available through a collaboration with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District relay information to park stations that trigger sprinkler systems. Those sprinklers activate based on the evapotranspiration rate, a figure that combines weather conditions including rainfall, humidity, wind, temperature and solar radiation to estimate how much moisture plants have lost because of weather. When the evapotranspiration rate indicates that grass is staying hydrated, the computer system shuts off the sprinklers. Low-flow technology, improved sprinkler head design and drought-tolerant hybrid grass seeds have also set Boulder up to use less water this summer and in drought years that may follow. Park irrigation systems are updated every 10 years to keep them current with new developments in watering technology. Monte Stevenson, Lafayette’s director of parks, open space and golf, said that efficient water use is essential. With the computerized system, he said, “water savings can be an average of 10 to 50 percent better than the best human decision you can make.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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