Snowpack/drought/runoff news #COdrought

Snow water equivalent as a percent of normal May 12, 2014 via the NRCS
Snow water equivalent as a percent of normal May 12, 2014 via the NRCS

From the Associated Press via THOnline:

A powerful spring storm that dumped more than 3 feet of snow in some parts of the Rockies closed a major national trucking route for more than 24 hours, snapped power lines and drew skiers to the slopes of Colorado’s only remaining open ski area.

Just to the south, some Arizona communities are rationing water because of drought, and to the west, drought-parched California is bracing for another week of hot weather that could fuel more wildfires.

Spring is normally the wettest time of year in the Rockies. While snowfall is common in the mountains in May, significant snowfall at lower elevations like Denver in May only occurs every five or 10 years, experts said.

US Drought Monitor May 6, 2014
US Drought Monitor May 6, 2014

Much of the West remains in some stage of drought, with the worst conditions in Southern California and the Southern Plains and Texas Panhandle. Gusty Santa Ana winds are raising the fire danger in California, where temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees in drought-stricken inland areas this week.

A wildfire on Sunday on the Panhandle’s dry, dusty plains destroyed 75 homes in a mobile home community.
Conditions vary greatly within states. While Colorado’s overall amount of snow in the mountains — the state’s main water supply — is close to average this year, the snowpack in its southwestern corner is way below normal, and severe drought continues to afflict farms and ranches in the southeast. Fire officials are predicting a normal wildfire season for Colorado, which would be an improvement over recent years in which blazes have destroyed hundreds of houses.


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Mother’s Day storm system boosted snowpack levels in most parts of the state, but will not have much impact on the long-term drought that continues to grip the Arkansas Valley.

“One system moving through doesn’t do much for the long term,” said Makoto Moore, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. “It reduced the fire danger for a few days and provided some nice soaking moisture, and that’s good.”

While Pueblo has enjoyed average precipitation this year, the Rocky Ford area and other farming communities on the Eastern Plains remain under severe or exceptional drought conditions, according to the National Drought Monitor.

Snowpack levels, which declined when unseasonably high temperatures triggered early runoff in late April and early May, bounced back across the state Monday.

The Arkansas River basin snowpack increased to 103 percent from 87 percent last week. Statewide, every basin except the Rio Grande improved. In the northern part of Colorado, precipitation is about 20 percent higher than normal, while Southern Colorado is just 80-95 percent of median since Oct. 1.

The snow began as rain, but turned to snow as temperatures cooled Sunday afternoon. Snowfall continued into Monday morning in mountainous areas.

The heaviest accumulation was in the Westcliffe area, where more than a foot of snow amounted to 2 inches of moisture, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow network.

Parts of Huerfano County and southern Pueblo County received nearly an inch of moisture, while Pueblo and Pueblo West got 0.1-0.4 inches of moisture.

Out east, Otero and Crowley counties got 0.3-0.64 inches of rain.

While the southwest corner of the state and the San Juan Mountains are expected to get more snowfall this week, the weather is expected to be drier and warmer through the weekend in Pueblo and the surrounding area.

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