Drought/runoff news: Basins show ‘unremarkable blip…six to 10 weeks earlier than average’ — Troy Wineland

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Here’s the first of the the Summit Daily News’ Drought Watch series, written by Troy Wineland, Water Commissioner for Division 5, District 36 [Blue River]. Here’s an excerpt:

Snowpack in the Blue River Basin peaked at about 85 percent of average on March 1. Since then, high winds and warmer temperatures (literally) vaporized an already deficient snowpack to 9 percent of average as of May 15. Less snow and warmer temperatures translate to earlier and severely diminished spring runoff. Basins that reach their prime in June or July achieved an unremarkable “blip” six to 10 weeks earlier than average. At present, all the principal water courses within the county are flowing less than 33 percent of average (several are less than 20 percent) with a few of the streams already breaking record low flows…

Due to drought conditions in the Blue River watershed, water providers in Summit County are implementing increased levels of water conservation. Please go to your water provider’s website to see how these changes will affect you. For additional water conservation tips visit: www.blueriverwatershed.org.

Meanwhile, wish firefighters luck in containing the High Park Fire. Here’s a report from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jane Kyle). Here’s an excerpt:

As of Sunday evening, the High Park Fire exceeded 20,000 acres, fueled by windy, dry conditions that have left crews with “no hope for containment,” according to County Sheriff Justin Smith. A more specific size is expected this morning after aircraft use infrared cameras to measure the full extent of the fire burning 15 miles northwest of Fort Collins…Smith said the blaze is quickly becoming his worst nightmare, spreading “in every possible direction” as an already smoke-darkened Sunday night drew into its late hours. “This is simultaneously burning through every area we’ve been individually concerned about for the past two decades,” he said. “The best thing we have now is prayer for a change in weather.”

From the Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

On Friday, the snowpack at the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s SNOWTEL site on Red Mountain Pass was 0 percent of average. The average for the day is about 8 inches of snow water equivalent.

While local reservoirs are storing water as intended, it’s uncertain whether Ridgway Reservoir will bump up the last 7 feet it needs to fill. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association expects to place another call on the Uncompahgre River, after having lifted a call earlier this year. The association is also asking its urban yard and canal/lateral pump users to share the pain by cutting back use.

And, to the surprise of few, Montrose County is in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s June 5 data.

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