From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):
Snowpack is above average in the mountains, including the basins that supply Loveland’s water, but the cities on the Front Range are dry, with barely any snow or rain since August. Loveland is sitting at 43 percent of average moisture for September through Thursday, while Fort Collins is 49 percent of average. This September through November ranks as the 24th driest in Fort Collins’ 122 years of records, according to weather records kept at Colorado State University. The last year it was this dry in Loveland and Fort Collins was 2003…
“The reservoirs are as full as they’ve been in a decade,” [Nolan Doesken, state climatologist] said. “The mountain snow measurements are also looking very good.” The Upper Colorado basin measures 124 percent of average snowpack this time of year, and the South Platte sits at 113 percent. Both of these supply water to the Colorado-Big Thompson pipeline.
More coverage from the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):
Currently the snowpack in the mountains on the west side of the Valley sits at 61 percent of average, and the snowpack to the east is even lower. The Sangre de Cristo range on the Valley’s east side currently sits at 23 percent of normal snowpack, while the San Juans on the west are at 61 percent, making the basin wide snowpack at about 50 percent of average…
[Colorado Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division IIII Craig Cotten] said the current weather pattern is La Niña, and generally when that is the case, the southern part of the state seems to experience different weather than the northern part, with the dividing line around Highway 50. Areas north of Salida are currently experiencing as much as 150 percent above average snowpack while areas south, including the Valley, are experiencing considerably less. “The long term forecast for us is for below average precipitation through most of the wintertime,” Cotten added.
He said it is not good for Colorado to have below-average precipitation, but the problem is compounded when New Mexico is below average because it means the level of Rio Grande Compact reservoir Elephant Butte will decrease even more than it has, which hurts Colorado. Cotten said the reservoir is already fairly low, and a lot of the water in the reservoir belongs to somebody else, such as the state of New Mexico. Colorado actually has less than 1,000 acre feet of water stored at Elephant Butte, but that is a good thing, Cotten said, because of the evaporation at Elephant Butte. Colorado had previously stored Rio Grande Compact water at the Rio Grande Reservoir, a high mountain reservoir in the Valley where evaporation is not as much of an issue. However, the state released stored water (about 1,000 acre feet total) from Rio Grande Reservoir into the system to meet compact obligations. “I think we are going to be real close to our goal on both rivers, Rio Grande and Conejos,” Cotten said regarding the state’s obligation to downstream states through the Rio Grande Compact. The goal is to hit zero owed and zero credit on the Rio Grande, and the state will be close to that.
On the Conejos River system, the state will likely end the year with a credit, or more water delivered than the compact required.