Snowpack news: Larimer County snowpack and reservoir storage lower than 2012 #codrought




Take a trip down memory lane by clicking on the thumbnail graphics. I’ve posted snowpack maps from around this time of year for 2013, 2012 and 2011.

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):

Although 2013 has just begun, it already is drier than 2012 at this point, and the amount of water stored in reservoirs is much less than January of last year. Snowpack is at 61 percent of normal in the Upper Colorado and South Platte Basins, which affect Larimer County — lower than it was Jan. 10, 2012, said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water.

But water managers knew there was liquid in the bank in 2012 coming off three consecutive wet years and with area reservoirs at 121 percent of the level considered full. This year, by comparison, Colorado-Big Thompson reservoirs as well as other local storage facilities are 79 percent full — a 42 percent margin.

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

…[Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3 Engineer Craig Cotten] updated the [Rio Grande Roundtable] members on the status of the snowpack. He said the Rio Grande Basin was about 60 percent of average as of Tuesday.

“We need about 137 percent of average from now on through the rest of the winter season to get us even up to that average level,” he said. “We definitely need some more snow.”

He said the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ stream forecast for this year predicts about 66 percent of average flow on the Rio Grande and 74 percent of average on the Conejos River system, or about the same as 2012. Forecasts for the rest of the streams around the San Luis Valley vary from 36 to 76 percent of average, he added.

“We have still got a few months of winter left, and we can definitely get some good snow still, but it is not looking real good so far.”

From the Leadville Herald Democrat:

The 2013 water year has gotten off to a slow start in the mountains of Colorado. As of Jan. 1, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 70 percent of average and 91 percent of last year’s readings, according to Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Conditions could have been much worse if we had not received the moisture we did in December,” Philipps said. The much-needed snowfall in December boosted the snowpack from just 36 percent of average recorded on Dec. 1. The Jan. 1 snowpack is the fourth lowest within the last 32 years, she added.

Mountain precipitation was 112 percent of average for December, but due to exceptionally dry conditions statewide in October and November, total water year-to-date precipitation remains below average. In October and November, Colorado received only 50 and 41 percent of average precipitation respectively.

Statewide year-to-date precipitation was at 68 percent of average as of Jan. 1. Basins in southern Colorado have the greatest deficits. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins reported only 59 percent of average year-to-date precipitation on Jan. 1. The Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas basins recorded 62 and 61 percent of average for year-to-date precipitation respectively.

So far this winter season has been dominated by high-pressure weather systems and a jet stream that has not cooperated. Jan. 1 snow surveys confirm that snow accumulation is below average for this time of year across the state. Total accumulation ranges from 82 percent of average in the Yampa and White River basins to 61 percent of average in the Arkansas basin.

Due to last spring’s well-below-average snowpack and subsequent low stream-flow volumes throughout most of the state, reservoir storage is currently well below average throughout Colorado. Statewide reservoir storage at the end of December was just 68 percent of average and 38 percent of capacity.

As far as local reservoirs are concerned, Twin Lakes is at 13 percent of capacity, 24 percent of average and 20 percent of last year. Turquoise Lake is at 33 percent of capacity, 48 percent of average and 44 percent of last year.

From the Chaffee County Times:

Despite recent snowstorms, Arkansas River Basin snowpack measured 61 percent of average, the lowest of any river basin in the state, as of Jan. 1. Data from the National Resources Conservation Service show statewide snowpack at 70 percent of average and 91 percent of 2012 readings.

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