Runoff/snowpack news: Lake Powell is on the rise

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From (John Hollenhorst):

Forecasters had been expecting a good year at Lake Powell from all the snowmelt heading down the Colorado River. But the latest forecast jumped two million acre feet — enough water to fill an acre, two million feet deep! And that’s just the increase over last month’s forecast. “I was surprised that it went that high,” said Richard Clayton, a hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “I was aware of the snowpack conditions. but I was very surprised that they jumped it up that fast.” In the coming weeks Lake Powell will rise a few inches a day, then nearly a foot a day heading into summer. “It will increase maybe 15 feet in the next month, but then it’s really going to take off in June,” Clayton said. When the last snow melts, Lake Powell will have risen 50 feet for the year, ending up nearly 25 feet higher than last year.

From the Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

The Green River, infused with the rushing waters of Colorado’s Yampa River, is expected to fill farm fields and damage homes. The Yampa is expected to be 6 to 10 feet above its peak levels.

The estimated inflow into Lake Powell has jumped by 2 million acre-feet of water in just one week, leading the Bureau of Reclamation to revise its estimates on how much the lake will rise. Overall, Lake Powell will receive 11.5 million acre feet because of runoff. Initially thought to fill 10 feet higher, the lake will rise by as much as 25 feet. The BOR’s Ed Vidmar said over the next four to six months, as much water will be released as possible downstream to Nevada’s Lake Mead, and the power plant will run at full capacity. The excess water, he noted, is good news for the Colorado River Basin and for Lake Powell recreationers, with the lake being 45 feet from full by sometime in July.

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The National Resource Conservation Service says a water measuring station near Steamboat reached 73 inches of water content. The previous record for that area was 71.1 inches set back in 1978. There was so much snow that the 16 foot tall measuring gauge had to be extended.

From the Vail Daily (Randy Wyrick):

Snowpack for our area — the Colorado River Basin — is 151 percent of normal and more than twice as much as last year (222 percent), according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service…

Vail Mountain set a new snowfall record with 524 inches for the 2010-11 season. The last time Vail Mountain recorded even close to that much snow was during the 1977-78 season, when the resort had 505 inches. In fact, the ski season ended with a winter storm warning that lasted three days.

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