Snowpack news: Upper Colorado River Basin = 40% of avg, all eyes at Denver Water are on the mountains #CODrought


Click on the thumbnail graphic for today’s snowpack picture from the Upper Colorado River Basin, home to much of Denver Water’s collection system.


This fall has been unusually warm and dry in the Mile High City and up and down the Front Range and not many people are complaining…

The unusual weather has many Colorado water managers concerned. According to the latest survey, the state snow pack now measures 41 percent of average. That’s not only affecting Colorado skiers and ski resorts, it could mean water restrictions if the trend continues.

“It’s been a really dry spring and fall and so we are concerned about the conditions,” said Stacy Chesney, Denver Water spokesperson. “We’re hopeful that we get snow this winter but if it remains really dry we may have to do additional [Mandatory] water restrictions this coming spring and summer.”

Denver Water relies on reservoirs for a good deal of its water supply. Currently, reservoir levels are 15 percent below normal.

From the Summit Daily News (Caddie Nath):

Forecasters usually base long-term prediction models on El Niño and La Niña patterns. An El Niño winter will likely favor southern Colorado with the prime powder. A La Niña year, like the almost-legendary winter of 2010-11, tends to suggest a better winter is in store for the northern part of the state, including Summit County. But in the throes of a worsening drought, this year is unhelpfully following what forecasters jokingly call La Nada — showing neither pattern and making it difficult for weather watchers to anticipate any long-term trends at all.

“The crystal ball is a little fuzzy,” said Bob Henson, of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

But it would be reaching to call forecasters optimistic.

There’s little moisture in the seven to 10-day forecast, the timeframe meteorologists can predict with some accuracy, and long-term models point to above-average temperatures if nothing else. This winter likely won’t deliver what Colorado needs to escape the drought, experts say.

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