CWCB: Joint Meeting of the Water Availability & Flood Task Forces recap

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Here are my notes from today’s meeting:

Water Supply

Nolan Doesken (State Climatologist) summed up the water outlook for this season pretty well, “It’s not too late to get better, but It’s too late to get a lot better, unless something wild happens.”

He detailed precipitation from around the state. In Northeast Colorado Burlington had its wettest year on record at over 30 inches and with the good winter moisture so far this water year they’ve had 40 inches of precipitation in 18 months. Akron is near normal. This is the fifth snowiest year in Fort Collins history. The weather station at the mouth of Waterton Canyon (Kassler) is near a record high. Boulder is also on the wet side. He didn’t talk about the Clear Creek or South Platte headwaters areas.

Mike Gillespie (NRCS) said that the snowpack in South Platte Basin is ahead of the years 2002-2004 at 86% as of today. He said that the SP basin would need 206% of average over the next few weeks to get to the normal peak while storage in the basin is at 104%. He added that last summer’s season was better for storage than the previous 8-9 years.

His streamflow projections were from the March 1 Basin Outlook Report (K:\Water Resources\Daily Downloads\borco310.pdf). A new report will probably hit 2 weeks from tomorrow. The current streamflow forecast compared to normal: Clear Creek , 69%; South Platte, 68%; and the Poudre, 70%.

An interesting note was that Lake Powell is at 60% of capacity with Lake Mead coming in at 45%. Things are very dry in the Upper Colorado Basin, Green River Basin and Yampa/White basins so there is not much chance for the two big reservoirs to come up this year. A teleconference participant from the Upper Colorado River Basin said, “It’s looking like 2002 in the upper basin.”

Flood Risk

Doesken said there is nothing right now that would add concern for volume flooding from snowmelt. However with the high moisture in the soil there is potential that spring and early summer rain could lead to flash flooding.

Another speaker (Chris ???) also addressed the flood risk saying that overall Colorado has a below normal flood risk for volume flooding from runoff. He added that the South Platte through the Denver area has a low chance of spring flooding as does the river at Kersey. He would not predict flash flood risk this early in the season.

A FEMA official echoed the minimal flood risk for Colorado this spring.

The CWCB maintains a Daily Flood Threat Website at: http://www.hdrwebprojects.com/COSWP/. It’s not active yet for this season.

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