CWCB: Water Availability Task Force meeting recap

A picture named snowpackcolorado01192011

From the Associated Press (Catherine Tsai) via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

Forecasters say this is just the beginning of what could be a two-year La Nina cycle, when the second year is often drier than the first. If that pans out, that could pose problems for farmers already hurting for rain and snow cover this winter.

Still, water planners say it’s too early to be optimistic or pessimistic about water supplies, even just for this year. Colorado typically gets most of its snow in March and April. “If it were a football game, we’d only be in the second quarter,” said Bob Steger, raw water supply manager for Denver Water…

Breckenridge Ski Resort, where at least one trail sign was halfway covered in a snowdrift Tuesday, reported 26 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours…

The storm helped boost the statewide snowpack to 125 percent of the 30-year average Tuesday, but the Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas river basins in southern Colorado are below average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. If the southwest corner of the state hadn’t gotten hit with December storms, it also would be hurting, said NRCS snow survey supervisor Mike Gillespie. Instead, the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basin stands at 120 percent of average, according to NRCS…

In December, moisture from storms that struck California helped the state turn around its snowpack totals, but little of it made its way east of the Continental Divide, said state climatologist Nolan Doesken. In the Arkansas basin, the headwaters are in decent shape, but farmers and ranchers to the east aren’t getting the same moisture, he said.

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