Snowpack/drought news: The backward march of snowpack continues, statewide snowpack at 58% of average

snowpackcolorado03302012

Here’s a report from Eric Brown writing for The Greeley Tribune. Click through and read the whole article and check the photos of the NRCS guys getting snowpack readings this year and last. Here’s an excerpt:

“We knew it would be low, but not this low,” said [Todd Boldt, NRCS], who has been making the monthly drives from Fort Collins up to the mountains to conduct surveys for 17 years. Boldt made that statement early in the afternoon while sitting in his truck at Cameron Pass, a 10,000-plus-elevation spot where they had taken their final readings of the day. The overall snow-water equivalent measurement they had just taken at that location was 50 percent below the 30-year average for late March.

And those were the good numbers for the day. [John Fusaro, NRCS] and Boldt had taken readings earlier that showed the snow-water equivalent at Big South was only 7 percent of the 30-year average.

Low snowpack figures this year aren’t isolated to the Poudre River Canyon. According to the Colorado Snotel Snowpack Update Map on Friday, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 42 percent below the 30-year average for March 30 — only 2 percent better than it was for that date in 2002, the year of Colorado’s historic drought. Additionally, the South Platte River Basin’s overall snowpack was 36 percent below normal Friday, and the Colorado River Basin’s snowpack was 43 percent below average — the latter of which is 11 percent worse than it was in 2002, and only 3 percent better than the all-time low for March 30, recorded in 1977.

More coverage Electa Draper writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

It looks as if this will be the second-warmest March on record for Denver, surpassed only by 1910. Daytime highs in Denver were 9 degrees higher than the March average. Nighttime lows were 6 degrees higher.

“If it weren’t for the early fires, we’d call this a nice spring,” state climatologist Nolan Doesken said.

“People are loving the warm weather. It’s more like May. But there’s this nagging discomfort watching the mountain snowpack go so early. You’re enjoying the sunshine but knowing it’s not quite right.”

The snowpack is at 60 percent of normal statewide. Almost the entire state is either “abnormally dry” or in a short-term “moderate drought,” according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. The state’s southeastern corner is experiencing severe drought.

More coverage from KKTV.com:

…water officials from both Pueblo and Colorado Springs tell 11 News they are prepared if we see a repeat. Pueblo water officials say they have been building up a water reserve for years, just in case we see extreme drought conditions. At this point, Southern Colorado officials are optimistic that customers won’t have any watering restrictions this summer…

The Pueblo Board of Water Works says they expect significantly lower than average stream flow in the Arkansas River this year and tight water supply situations throughout the Arkansas Valley because of the lack of rain and poor snow-pack. Officials say the board is carefully monitoring the water supply, and maintained an ample reserve supply in storage at Clear Creek, Twin Lakes, Turquoise and Pueblo Reservoirs. The board also does not anticipate any curtailment of extraterritorial water leases for this coming summer.

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