Snowpack (% of normal) news: Upper Rio Grande (85%) inching towards normal #COdrought

From Colorado PBS (Jim Trotter):

There’s so much snow in the South Platte River Basin that water managers there are “holding their breath” for a normal, well-behaved runoff when melting begins in earnest, said assistant State Climatologist Wendy Ryan.

In other words, they don’t want an unexpected streak of 90 degree days that could create a deluge in river channels damaged from last September’s massive flooding.

Elsewhere in the state, conditions range from the mostly positive to the downright worrisome. Snowpack in the San Juan Mountains is 90 percent of average, with drier conditions in the Four Corners. In the Rio Grande and lower Arkansas River basins, however, where drought has persisted in a multi-state region for three years going on four, conditions are less promising.

Snowpack in the Rio Grande is only 74 percent of normal, which could have grim portent for New Mexico and D2 (severe), D3 (extreme) and D4 (exceptional) drought conditions now exist in Colorado’s southeastern corner. Springs storms and a healthy monsoon season could change all of that, of course, but for now – given recent history – there are plenty of reasons to worry.

The southeastern plains received moisture from September’s epic storms, but by that time ranchers had sold off most of their cattle because there was no water and no wheat. What grew from the moisture instead is what Ryan described as an “epidemic of tumbleweed.”[…]

Among other measures followed by the climate center at Colorado State University, is reservoir water storage. There, too, the news ranged from good to not so good. Lake Dillon is standing at 111 per cent of average and 94 percent full, while Lake Granby is 91 percent of average and 47 percent full – good numbers for this time of year. But the massive Lake Powell is only 56 percent of average, 39 percent full.

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