Snowpack news: ‘Do we know what this winter is going to do? No’ — Nolan Doesken #CODrought


From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Heather McGregor):

The weather patterns of this year and the two preceding years have only been seen once before in recorded weather data, in the 1950s. And the outcome that time was a prolonged drought lasting for three years, Doesken said. But one set of precedent years doesn’t make for a secure prediction now, [State Climatologist Nolan Doesken] said…

Snowpack in the Colorado River watershed, from Grand Junction to the Continental Divide, is at 41 percent of average for Nov. 30, according to data on the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service website. In the state’s eight major river basins, snowpack ranges from a low of 27 percent in the Arkansas to 52 percent in the Platte.

Reservoir storage is also below normal for late fall, at the end of a year that has already been extremely dry. Ruedi Reservoir on the Fryingpan River is 44 feet below its high water mark and holding 63 percent of capacity, said Kara Lamb, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Green Mountain Reservoir on the Blue River is 53 feet below its high water mark and holding just 44 percent of capacity, she said. At both reservoirs, releases are greater than the estimated inflow, so reservoir levels continue to inch downward…

But in the one known example of two La Niña years followed by a “No Niño,” huge snowfall occurred in December 1951, but 1953 through 1956 were very dry years.

“There are lots of uncertainties,” Doesken said. “We don’t know for sure, but there is a nagging concern with the storm track missing southern California and not delivering much of anything to Colorado. We could be looking at a second dry year for northern Colorado, and a third dry year for southern Colorado.”

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