Snowpack news (% of avg): The Upper Rio Grande basin climbs to 90% #COdrought

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

According to the most recent USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveys, snowpack in the high elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 115 percent to 194 percent of the 30-year average, with the overall average for Middle Park at 141 percent. New record highs were set at both the Granby and Buffalo Park snow courses. At this time last year, the area was only at 75 percent of average. Snow density is averaging 28 percent, which means that for one foot of snow there is only 3.3 inches of water, which NRCS surveyors said is normal for early March.

All Colorado River basins are reporting above average snowpack, except for southwestern Colorado which is 5 to 15 percent below average. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: Colorado River Basin 137 percent; Gunnison River Basin, 114 percent; South Platte River Basin,145 percent; Yampa and White River Basins, 122 percent; Arkansas River Basin, 103 percent; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 85 percent; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basins 95 percent; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 132 percent of average for this time of year.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Andrea Sinclair):

Utilities’ March Water Outlook report says snowpack levels are above average and the early season yield projections indicate a positive outlook for the year.

Water storage levels throughout the state are at 57 percent capacity, according to utilities officials. Although that’s not an ideal number, utilities spokesman Steve Berry said that’s a far cry from where levels were sitting at this time last year.

“Last year we were at about 47 percent capacity, and we were going through a severe drought,” Berry said. “It’s a good jump, and it’s really just below the 30-year average of about 62 percent capacity.”

Although winter temperatures fell into the single and negative digits, an increase in snowfall accumulations in the mountains diminished drought conditions in the region, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

According to the National Weather Service’s Winter Review, which summarized weather from Dec. 1to Feb. 28, Colorado Springs received 19.1 inches of snow, which is 2.9 inches above normal…

As of Feb. 28, Pikes Peak snowpack levels were at 52 percent, and Rampart Reservoir at 86 percent, bringing local storage levels to 73 percent, according to utilities records. Additionally, snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin is at 130 percent of average, and the Arkansas Basin level is at average capacity.

Drought conditions and water restrictions imposed by utilities officials encouraged area residents to conserve water, according to utilities records. February water consumption averaged 40.4 million gallons per day, about three percent less than last February. Year-to-date useage averaged 39.9 million gallons per day, a 6.1 percent decrease from last year.

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