The May 1 Basin Outlook Report (NRCS) is hot off the press: Read it and weep


Click here to download your own copy. Thanks to Mage Skordahl (Natural Resources Conservation Service) for sending the link along in email. She certainly picked an interesting year to take over the snow survey reporting.

Click on the thumbnail graphic for the May 1 streamflow forecast map for Colorado. The map mirrors the snowpack map except for four sub-basins along the southern border of Colorado. Here’s a preview of the report:

As we head into the high water demand season, the prospects for improved runoff conditions continue to diminish. The continuation of dry conditions in April resulted in significant reductions in streamflow forecasts for the second month in a row. Most of those decreases ranged from 5 to 20 percentage points. The highest forecasts in the state, which are still calling for less than 50 percent of average volumes, are in the Upper Rio Grande River basin and in the rivers in the southwest corner of the state. The majority of the state’s streams and rivers are expected to produce only 20 to 40 percent of average volumes. The lowest runoff volumes are expected in northern Colorado, where streamflows are expected to be 15 to 30 percent of average. With much of the meager snowpack already melted we can only hope for abnormally wet conditions for the remainder of this spring and into the summer to alleviate shortages.

Data from the storm over the weekend and yesterday is not reflected in the report. In 2010 there were two separate peaks in the South Platte basin in May. Last year we saw three peaks during May. One of my colleagues tells me, “You sound like a farmer.” I guess it’s a glass half-full way of thinking. I have talked to one farmer who is not planting part of his place this year fearing the lack of ditch water late in the season for finishing corn.

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