Snowpack news

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Precipitation for 2009 totaled 15.83 inches at the Pueblo airport, where official records are measured by the National Weather Service. It was the wettest year since 1990, but not even close to the 23 inches that fell in 1957…

Snowpack, which supplies most of the area’s water, is a different story, however. After a strong start in October and November, the moisture in the snowpack has dwindled to just 89 percent in the Arkansas Valley and 83 percent statewide, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (pdf). Early snowfall totals mean little to the eventual water availability, because it accounts for only about 25 percent of the season total at most sites. The heaviest snowfall usually occurs in March and April. In the Colorado River basin, which supplies water imported to the Arkansas River basin, snowfall is only 80 percent of average…

The Arkansas River is flowing strongly above Lake Pueblo largely because of water being moved from Turquoise and Twin Lakes into Lake Pueblo in anticipation of bringing over water through transmountain tunnels in late springtime. At Wellsville, the river’s flow was 560 cubic feet per second and nearly half of that is Fry-Ark Project water. Vaughan is expecting Lake Pueblo to fill this spring as water is moved, winter water is stored and Colorado Springs maintains its account through exchanges. That could mean some water stored in excess-capacity accounts could spill. Aurora’s account would be the first to spill.

Reclamation is working to relieve the pressure on storage space, however. Irrigators were told in October there is little chance the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District would approve carry-over from winter water this year, meaning the remaining water stored in 2009 has to be out of the reservoir by May 1…

Through Pueblo, more water is coming into the river via Fountain Creek than from Pueblo Dam. The flow management program, set up under 2004 intergovernmental agreements, maintains 100 cfs through the city, with about one-third of that coming through the fish hatchery. Meanwhile, Fountain Creek was discharging 136 cfs – almost three times the median average – that is largely effluent from Colorado Springs and other urban areas in El Paso County. Under court decrees, Colorado Springs stores water in Lake Pueblo against its Fountain Creek return flows as a way to reuse transmountain and fully consumable native water.

From 9News.com (Bazi Kanani):

…Boulder has had twice as much snow as usual so far this winter. In Denver, we’re a foot above average. The cause is El Nino: warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that affect weather patterns around the world. “If this is a typical El Nino year we should expect a dryer period mid-winter, January and February,” [Matt Kelsch] said…In most places west of the Divide, snow pack levels are a bit below average. It’s not been a bad year in that regard, but they would certainly like to see a little more snow in those areas.

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