Snowpack news

A picture named snowpackcolorado04082010

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Karen Rademacher, a senior water resources engineer with Northern Water, said reservoir storage within the district’s boundary is at record high and soil moisture is in excellent condition going into the growing season. But the high-mountain snowpack, in particular that area of the upper Colorado River where Northern gets its supplemental water supply for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, is dismal at best. That bad news, however, has improved somewhat in the past week, Rademacher said, with early spring storms dumping a lot of snow in the mountains…

That’s the scenario Northern’s board will face when it meets Friday to set this year’s quota for the C-BT, and while Rademacher said the staff decision has not yet been set in stone, chances are good for a 70 percent quota to start the year. That means for every acre-foot of water a C-BT shareholder has, it will get 0.7 of an acre-foot it can use. An acre-foot is enough water to supply two families with a year’s supply of water. That water goes to both agricultural, as well as municipal and industrial users…

Because of the low snowpack, streamflow from the snowpack runoff is forecast at about 50 percent to 80 percent of average in the tributaries for both the Colorado and South Platte rivers. However, Rademacher and Jim Hall, head of the Division 1 office of the Colorado Division of Water Resources in Greeley, said reservoir storage throughout northern Colorado is at record levels. “It’s the best storage I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Hall said of eastern Colorado reservoirs. And because of soil moisture, he said there has not yet been a call for water from the South Platte, which is unusual. “I won’t say we’re in a great situation, because streamflow at this point isn’t looking good. But soil moisture is good, and since we haven’t had a call on the river, so I would say that I’m very optimistic,” Hall said.

Meanwhile here’s the April 1 Colorado Basin Outlook Report from the NRCS listing the current streamflow forecasts.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Matt Barnes):

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Matt Barnes took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March, when the monthly precipitation for the upper Colorado River Basin was a scant 68 percent of average. Snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 59 percent to 107 percent of the 30-year average, with the highest readings on the southeast side of the valley, and the lowest readings along Rabbit Ears Divide on the north side of the valley. This is slightly more snow than on April 1 in the drought years of 2002 or 2004…

Snow density is averaging 31 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.7 inches of water. This is less water than normal for this depth of snow on April 1. Muddy, Troublesome, Corral, and Willow creeks in Middle Park, and the North Platte River in North Park, have the lowest snowpack in the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of Grand County and adjacent parts of Jackson and Routt counties are now in moderate drought, with northern Summit County and most of the rest of northwest Colorado abnormally dry.

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