Snowpack news: It’s probably too late in the season for the snowpack to recover


From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The latest basin outlook report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lakewood relies on its surveys of the amount of water stored in the snowpack in the combined Yampa, White, North Platte and Laramie river basins, combined with historical data and current weather trends, to conclude there’s only a small chance that the water carried in those river systems this summer will reach average.

“Based on historical data there is a less than 10 percent chance that the snowpacks in these basins will recover to average conditions by the end of the season,” the report issued by state conservationist Phyllis Ann Phillips concluded. “April to July runoff is expected to be well below average at all forecast points except for the Laramie River near Woods Landing, which is expected to be 85 percent of average.”

It went on to say, “A closer look reveals that the Yampa and White river basins are faring a bit worse than the combined basins. These basins measure just 60 percent of average (snowpack) on Feb. 1 while the North Platte and Little Snake basins reported 69 and 67 percent, respectively.”[…]

If there is a bright spot in the snowpack outlook, it’s that area reservoirs contain 120 percent of average water storage. The Web page of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District shows the water level elevation at Stagecoach Reservoir is currently 7,197 feet, compared to 7,204 feet when the reservoir is full. District Manager Kevin McBride said the positive condition of water storage at Stagecoach is attributable to the strong water year of 2011 that still was adding to the reservoir in autumn. The reservoir’s recently expanded storage capacity also is helping. The district added to the height of the dam and filled the expanded reservoir for the first time last year. This week’s level is 7 feet below full but only 3 feet below the old capacity. “It’s still an open question whether we’ll fill, but we could easily fill with 50 percent” of average snowpack, McBride said. “And we’re very close right now to having the water needed to meet our contract obligations. That’s because of the raise” in capacity.

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