Snowpack news: ‘It’s good to be normal. After the last couple years, normal feels good’ — Diane Johnson #COdrought

From the Vail Daily (Randy Wyrick):

That puts the Colorado River Basin — that’s us — at 102 percent of normal and 141 percent of the past year’s Jan. 1 snowpack.

The moisture dried up a bit during the second half of December, especially in the south and southwest portions of the state, but the good start to the season still puts the entire state slightly above normal at 103 percent, said Phyllis Ann Phillips, state conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“This is a great start to the 2014 water year,” Phillips said. “As we saw in 2012 and 2013, early seasons deficits are difficult to make up later in the season; so being right where we should be this time of year gives us a head start compared to the past couple of years.”[…]

Vail Mountain SNOTEL peaks around April 25 most years, said Diane Johnson, with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

“It’s good to be normal. After the last couple years, normal feels good — almost double today from where we were a year ago — that’s positive!” Johnson said.

As of Wednesday, the snow-water equivalent at the Vail Mountain SNOTEL site is 8.4 inches. The 30-year median for this date is 8.9 inches, so we are 94 percent of normal, based on the 30-year median, Johnson said.

Also as of Wednesday, the snow-water equivalent was 191 percent of one year ago…

Right now, there’s not much difference in snowpack between the major basins in Colorado. They range from 111 percent of median in the Yampa, White and North Platte basins, to 99 percent of median in both the Rio Grande and South Platte basins.

That has led to decent streamflow forecasts for the spring and summer season. Streamflows in the Colorado, South Platte, Yampa, White and Arkansas River basins are currently expected to be in the 90 to 100 percent of normal range. In the Rio Grande, Gunnison and San Juan basins forecasts as of Jan. 1 are in the 80 to 100 percent of normal range.

“All in all, these early season conditions are favorable leading into the bulk of the snow accumulation season,” Phillips said. “If weather patterns persist and continue to provide moisture to our state this could be a good year for water supply and recreation in Colorado.”

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