Snowpack/Precipitation news: Northern Colorado irrigators and water suppliers are smiling, San Juan and Rio Grande not so much, Cameron pass has record snow

A picture named snowpackcolorado04052011

From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjun):

The Colorado, Yampa, White and South Platte rivers are among those favored by March’s La Niña weather patterns, which favored the northern mountains and left but a dusting on the southern mountains. The North Platte River is at the highest percent of average across the state, at 135 percent. The April 1 totals for the northern mountains are the highest for the time of year since the computation of basinwide totals began in 1968, a conservation service news release said…

In the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack rose again after three months of decline and remains above average. January’s measurements showed the basin was at 147 percent of average. In February and March, it dropped to 135 percent and 128 percent, respectively. But with March snowfall, the April 1 amounts are back to 130 percent of average and 172 percent of last year.

The Arkansas River Basin is at 103 percent of average, down from March’s 108 percent of average. January and February were at 105 and 103 percent of average, respectively. The basin currently sits at 99 percent of last year’s snowpack, compared to 110 percent last month. Percentages elsewhere in the southern mountains declined sharply in April 1 readings.

They’re now at the lowest readings of the year and are consistently below average in the Rio Grande and combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins.

Compared to northern Colorado, some smaller tributary basins in the Rio Grande Basin have dropped to nearly 50 percent of average, meaning the spring and summer water supply in the southern portion of the state — including the southern tributaries of the Arkansas River — is for below average runoff this year.

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

…in a survey taken last week, John Fusaro of the USDA NRCS office in Fort Collins said the 105-inch average depth of snow was the highest recorded at Cameron Pass, and the water content at the survey field was the third-highest since record-keeping began in 1936. That feeds the Poudre River, which flows into the South Platte River east of Greeley. That helped the South Platte River basin to a 121 percent of average reading and more than 50 percent more than last year’s readings…

“About the only basins likely to see below-average runoff this year are the Rio Grande, the southern tributaries of the Arkansas River, and the southwestern basins,” [Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS] said in the news release. Those areas, along with rest of the state, have good reservoir storage that will help supplement expected lower supplies.

From the Associated Press via TheDenverChannel.com (Kim Nguyen):

The Natural Resources Conservation Service said the snowpack statewide on the first of April was 113 percent of average, down slightly from a month ago.

From The Mountain Mail (Shelley Mayer):

Failing to live up to its reputation as the snowiest month, March in Salida continued a seven-month dry period with a total of .13 inch of precipitation. Historical average for the month is .73 inch of moisture. Although scattered raindrops, snowflakes and graupel occurred several times, measurable precipitation was recorded twice – .05 inch March 8 and .08 inch March 13. Salida January-March precipitation was .62 inches, nearly an inch less than the historical average of 1.59 inches. From September through March, Salida totaled 1.61 inches of moisture compared to the historical average of 4.56 inches.

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