Click here to read the update. Here’s an excerpt:
Recent weeks have brought increased precipitation in the northern portion of the state and cooler temperatures have helped to maintain snowpack; levels in the northwest corner have reached near normal conditions and statewide snowpack has increased to 90% of normal. However, the southern portions of the state is experiencing rapid deterioration of conditions and the eastern plains have seen devastating dust storms. Storage remains below average and water providers are preparing for continued drought conditions throughout the spring and summer. CWCB is maintaining a new drought response portal, www.COH2O.co, with additional information on restrictions that have been implemented in specific communities.
As of the April 16, 2013 US Drought Monitor, 100% of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought classification. D1 (moderate) and D2 (severe) cover 69% of the state, while D3 (extreme) accounts for an additional 25%. 14% of the state is now experiencing exceptional drought (D4), a decrease from last month.
Spring snow storms have brought significant gains in the snowpack of the northern portions of the state; with the Yampa/ White, North Platte and Colorado basins all near normal at 98, 102 and 103% respectively. The lowest snowpack in the state is in the Upper Rio Grande basin (70%) while the Southwest basins is experiencing 71% and the Arkansas is at 79% of normal for the water year. The Gunnison and the South Platte have also seen increases and are now both at 88 % of average. *
Despite recent gains in snowpack municipalities and water providers are still responding to drought conditions with both mandatory and voluntary watering restrictions throughout the spring and summer demand season. The CWCB drought response portal http://www.COH2O.co continues to help individuals determine the restrictions in their specific community.
As of the first of April statewide reservoir storage is at 71% of average. The highest storage levels are in the Yampa/ White River Basin, at 105% of average while the lowest storage in the state is the Rio Grande River basin at 54% of average. All other basins range from 55% to 84% of average. Last year this time the state was at 108% of average reservoir storage.*
Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) values have largely decreased across the state over the last month and all values remain negative. Below average reservoir storage and streamflow forecasts contribute to these values and data reflect conditions on April 1, 2013. Recent storms have helped to increase streamflow forecasts by as much as 10% in portions of northern and central Colorado, a component of the SWSI, however despite the increase they remain well below average.
The long term experimental forecast for April through June of this year is projecting above normal moisture for the eastern plains of the state. Additionally, the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA is forecasting above average temperatures statewide and persistent drought conditions across western portions of the state, with some relief possible on the eastern plains.
The National Interagency Fire Center Predictive services outlook indicates normal wildland fire potential is expected across most of Colorado from May into July.
A report from the USFS on Bark Beetles in the Rocky Mountain Region indicates that 4.2 Million acres of land in Colorado and adjacent lands in southern Wyoming have been affected by Mountain Pine Beetle, but the outbreak of the last decade is largely on the decline. However, Spruce beetle is on the rise and is expanding from southern Colorado north toward the Gunnison region.
More CWCB coverage here.