The January 2014 Colorado Basin Outlook report is hot off the presses from the NRCS

Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary

Compared to the last couple of years, the 2014 water year is off to a great start. The state saw above normal snow accumulation during October and November and into early December. The beneficial moisture dried up a bit in the latter part of December, especially in the south and southwest portion of the state, but the early season snow was enough to keep snowpack totals near to above normal across the state as of January 1. Statewide reservoir storage has also improved since the last water year, thanks mostly to the extreme precipitation events some areas of the state saw in September. It is still early in the season and anything can happen, but if weather patterns persist, this could be a good year for water supply and recreation in Colorado.

Snowpack

All major basins in Colorado are reporting snowpack totals to be at near to above normal levels as of January 1. The state benefited from multiple early season snow storms in October and November. Early December also boasted decent additions to the snowpack totals, while the last few weeks in December saw modified weather patterns. The northern basins continued to receive snow, but at more normal accumulation rates while in contrast, conditions in the southern part of the state were very dry. Statewide the snowpack is at 103 percent of median; January 1 snowpack readings in 2012 and 2013 were just 71 and 70 percent of median, respectively. There is currently not much variability in snowpack totals between the major basins in Colorado. This will likely change if we continue to see drier conditions in the south while the northern basins continue to accumulate snow. The highest snowpack readings in the state are in the combined Yampa, White and North Platte basins at 111 percent of median. The lowest reading statewide was 99 percent of median for both the South Platte and the Upper Rio Grande basins.

Precipitation

Precipitation received in the mountains during the first few months of this water year has really demonstrated how weather patterns affect the regions of our state differently. During October, precipitation was well above normal for the northern basins (Gunnison, Colorado, South Platte & Yampa, White, & North Platte), while the southern basins (Arkansas, Upper Rio Grande, and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, & San Juan) all recorded below normal totals. The reverse was true for November, with the southern basins seeing well above normal totals and the northern basins coming in below normal. In December all basins received below normal precipitation amounts with the southern basins seeing totals much lower than the northern basins. Statewide monthly precipitation totals measured at SNOTEL sites were 112 percent of average for October, 98 percent of average for November, and 80 percent of average in December. Between basins, percentages for the month of December ranged from 54 percent of average in the Arkansas basin to 93 percent of average for the Yampa, White & North Platte basins. Year to date precipitation is holding at 96 percent of average statewide, as a result of the wet conditions observed during October and November. So far this water year the Arkansas basin has received the lowest amount of precipitation, as a percent of average; the basin is reporting 87 percent of average for the year as of January 1. The Yampa, White and North Platte basins came in with the highest totals, as a percent of average, on January 1, at 107 percent of average. All in all this is a much better start than last year. Statewide year to date totals are 141 percent of last year’s totals at this same time.

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