NRCS Colorado Snow Survey and Water Supply News Release

snowpackreservoirstoragenrcsjanuary2012

Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Mage Skordahl):

Despite a decent start to the water year with above average precipitation and near average snowfall in October; drier conditions in November and December have resulted in a below average mountain snowpack for all the major basins in Colorado. As of January 1, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 71 percent of average and 52 percent of last year’s readings, according to Phyllis Philipps, State Conservationist, with the NRCS. This is the fourth lowest January 1 snowpack measured in the last 30 years and the lowest since January 1, 2002 when the snowpack was at 65 percent of average.

Snow accumulations on the eastern side of the Continental Divide and in south-central Colorado are closer to average than on the western slope and southwest Colorado. Early season upslope storms in October and November have kept the South Platte basin at 80 percent of average as of January 1. The Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins currently boast snowpack’s that are 96 and 92 percent of average respectively, the highest in the state. Current conditions in these basins are a welcome change considering both recorded well below average snowfall last season.

The start to this winter season is not as positive for the western basins. Snow accumulation in these basins is well below average for this time of year; ranging from 57 percent of average in the Yampa and White basins, to 73 percent of average in both the San Juan, Animas, Dolores, and San Miguel basins and the North Platte basin. In comparison, last year at this time these basins had snowpack’s that were at 145 percent of average in the Yampa and White, and 144 percent of average in the San Juan, Animas, Dolores, and San Miguel basins.

Statewide the current snowpack is well below what was measured last year on January 1 in all the major river basins. This trend is especially prevalent in the northwest and western portions of the state where measured snowfall totals are less than half of what was measured one year ago.

Due to last spring’s above average snowpack and subsequent runoff throughout most of the state, reservoir storage remains in good condition in Colorado. Only the Rio Grande Basin has significantly below average reservoir storage for this time of year.

Click on the thumbnail graphic above and to the right for a screen shot of the table that accompanied the release.

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