Snowpack news: Streamflow forecasts across the state are for below average flows


Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for a percentile ranking of water year precipitation from the Colorado Climate Center.

Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

Denver Water will issue its first spring reservoir outlook early next month after the March 1 snowpack figures have been compiled, and the National Weather Service this week issued its first outlook for flood potential.

No surprise, the spring runoff flood potential is slightly below average in the South Platte Basin, the Upper Colorado Basin and the North Platte Basin, including the headwaters tributaries in Grand, Jackson and Summit counties. “It should be noted that it’s still early in the snow accumulation season and conditions could change before the runoff begins,” hydrologist Treste Huse wrote in the bulletin.

Flooding is not likely because the snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin and the North Platte Basin is only at 91 percent of average for this time of year — the second and third-lowest readings for those basins in the last 25 years.

The South Platte snowpack is at 82 percent of average, thanks to a powerful early February storm that blasted the Front Range. The highest snowpack readings are in the northern Front Range mountains, at 90 percent of average in the Cache la Poudre Basin…

Despite a snowpack that’s tracking on par with the drought year of 2002, reservoir storage levels are high, at 109 percent of average for the entire state and 119 percent of average for the Upper Colorado, or about 77 percent of capacity in the Upper Colorado storage system…

the mountain regions of Summit and Grand counties are showing as being in moderate drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The outlook is calling for cooler than average temps and above-normal precipitation for the next two weeks, but a return to warmer and drier than average conditions for the 30- and 90-day outlooks.

The story is similar to the west, where the outlook for the Yampa/White river system, the Green, Gunnison and Dolores and San Juan river basins are all expected to deliver below-average runoff.

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