Snowpack news: The storms over the weekend boosted snowpack in southwestern Colorado #COdrought

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Cindy Kleh):

[Winter Park Resort’s] snow total for the entire season stands at 376 inches – more than 31 feet – the most since 2011, according to Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park’s Director of Public Relations and Communications. “We were 28 inches ahead of our historical average of 348 inches, which dates back to when snow records began being kept in 1976. In March, we had 61.5 inches and April finished strong with 37.5 inches, which is almost exactly average (for April).”

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Snow has started melting, but water officials still expect a banner spring runoff.

“We’re running water through the Boustead Tunnel, and the native flows in the Arkansas River basin have picked up,” said Roy Vaughan, manager of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project for the Bureau of Reclamation.

Snowpack in Colorado dropped to 102 percent of median this week after temperatures rose last week, but peak levels still finished above average.

“The normal peak is April 10, and we were well above average at that time,” Vaughan said. “The Snotel sites can be misleading, because a lot of that snow stays deep in the canyons.”

Nevertheless, runoff is occurring sooner than usual. So far, the Fry-Ark Project has moved 900 acre-feet of a projected 73,800 acre-feet from the Fryingpan River basin to the Arkansas basin.

“In 2009, we had moved 700 acre-feet by this time. It’s to be expected in a big year,” Vaughan said.

Typically, the heaviest flows in the tunnel will continue through June, and more can come through from summer rains or late runoff. The projection of 73,800 acre-feet for the Fry-Ark project was made April 1 and assumed normal precipitation on top of the already abundant snowpack. Since then, there have been several storms over the area. A new forecast will be made this week. Average Fry-Ark imports are about 54,000 acre-feet. Last year, about 47,000 acre-feet were brought into the basin.

With warmer temperatures Arkansas River flows increased last week to nearly double the previous flows. About one-sixth of the flows upstream from Lake Pueblo is water being released by Reclamation to make room for this year’s imports.

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