Snowpack news: Arkansas Basin is at approximately 85% of average — best in the state

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Big storms in December along the Colorado/New Mexico border boosted snowpack in the southern part of the Arkansas Basin so even after 17 months of drought the basin is out in front of the rest of the state. The Rio Grande basin is not far behind which is good news since parts of the area were in extreme drought conditions during water year 2011. Statewide snowpack is sitting at 72%. The Colorado River basin — source for much of the water for the Metro Denver area is only at 71%. Thankfully there is a storm moving into Colorado today and tomorrow.

Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Colorado snowpack was listed at 73 percent Monday, and the Arkansas River basin was in the best shape at 81 percent of average. The Arkansas River basin is in its 17th month of severe drought, however, with little new snow in the mountains and precious little moisture on the plains. Flow conditions on the Arkansas River are below normal for the first time in more than a year, while precipitation in January was practically nonexistent. Pueblo recorded just 0.03 inches of precipitation, far below the 0.29 inches recorded last year and the average of 0.33 inches.

In the Colorado River basin, which Arkansas Valley users rely on for supplemental water imported via tunnels and ditches, the picture is even bleaker. The U.S. Drought Monitor now lists Western Colorado as abnormally dry, verging on a moderate drought. Snowfall moisture is at 72 percent, with moisture content in the mountains at 4-10 inches. At this time last year, many areas were beginning to build near-record snowpack. “March and April are coming, when we get most of the snow,” said Linda Hopkins, of the Pueblo office of the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

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