Runoff/snowpack news: South Platte Basin snowpack 6th highest in period of record

Statewide Basin High/Low graph June 19, 2014 via the NRCS
Statewide Basin High/Low graph June 19, 2014 via the NRCS

From KUNC (Nathan Heffel):

According to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, peak snowpack across some of the state’s major basins was in the top 10 of the last 34 years.

Brian Domonkos, NRCS hydrologist and survey supervisor for the Colorado Snow Survey Program, said some areas of the state had exceptional snowpack this year.

“Say the North Platte, South Platte, Yampa and White; some of those snowpacks in terms of peak snowpack were in the top seven of the last 34 years,” he said.

According to NRCS data:

  • The Yampa and White saw the 8th highest peak snowpack of the last 29 years.
  • The North Platte saw the 7th highest peak snowpack of the last 34 years.
  • The South Platte saw the 6th highest peak snowpack of the last 34 years.
  • “I will say that on an average year, between 50 and 80 percent of stream flows and the water we see in our rivers and reservoirs comes from snowmelt,” Domonkos said. “Having an idea of that snowpack and what we have is kind of a reservoir, so to speak, of what we have from snowpack alone since precipitation beyond that can be very difficult to predict.”

    From KRCC (Andrea Chalfin):

    A two-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Salida has reopened to boaters. It closed at the beginning of June due high waters that caused a hazard at a recently constructed boat chute. The portage trail used to bypass the chute had also become impassable.

    In a statement, Rob White, Park Manager at the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, said they’re still working on the diversion structure, but that the portage trail has been repaired. White added they’re working with the engineering firm that designed the chute to explore potential ways to prevent issues in high water in the future.

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife says it’s mandatory for rafters to portage at the Silver Bullet Rapid or Helena Diversion. Caution is advised for whitewater canoes and kayaks.

    From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

    Despite full powerplant & bypass releases from Morrow Pt dam, flows in the lower Gunnison River at the Whitewater gage have dropped below the half bankfull target of 8,070 cfs. The forecast projects that these flows will continue to drop as tributary contributions trend toward baseflow levels. Therefore releases from Aspinall will begin to ramp down starting today, Tuesday June 24th. Releases will ramp down over the next 9 days before flows settle out at something around 1,000 cfs in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon. Releases from Aspinall will then be dependent on the amount of water needed to sustain the baseflow target of 1,500 cfs as measured at the Whitewater gage.

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