#Drought news: Statewide reservoir storage = 105% of avg

Click here to go to the Colorado Water Conservation Board website to read the update. Here’s an excerpt:

Activation of the State Drought Mitigation and Response Plan, and the activation of the Agricultural Impact Task Force remain in effect to respond to ongoing drought conditions in Southern Colorado.

February was the 14th warmest on record and 221 daily temperature records were either tied or broken throughout the state. March has continued this pattern especially on the western slope. At least two communities, Denver and Colorado Springs have seen their earliest 80oF day on record (March 16). Late February and early March storms helped increase snowpack levels, but the remainder of the month, to date, has been warm and dry in many basins.

El Nino conditions are expected to strengthen over the next few months favoring a wet spring for the southeastern portion of the state.

 Water year-to-date precipitation at mountain SNOTEL sites, as of March 16, is at 85% of normal. As a state, Colorado will need to experience 226% of normal precipitation in the next few weeks in order to reach the normal peak by April 1st. The South Platte basin continues to have the highest snowpack at 100% of normal. The Upper Rio Grande basin has the lowest at 73% of normal, a 12% increase from February.

 March 1st streamflow forecasts statewide range from 54-113% of average. The near average to above average forecasts are in the South Platte, Colorado, and upper portions of the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins. The lowest streamflow forecast is 54% of average in the upper Gunnison basin on Surface Creek at Cedaredge.

 Reservoir Storage statewide is at 105% of average as of March 1st a slight improvement from last month. Storage in the northern half of the state is in good shape heading into the spring. The southern half of the state has below average storage levels. The Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage at 72% of normal.

 The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) is at near normal statewide. The lowest SWSI value in the state is due to low storage levels in Paonia Reservoir in the Gunnison basin. Currently, the reservoir is at 25% of average.

 Current El Nino conditions are expected to persist and may be bolstered by a positive PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). El Nino typically favors more precipitation in Colorado during the growing season.

 Water providers in attendance reported their systems are in good shape, largely due to plentiful storage. Despite higher than average temperatures, providers have not seen a significant increase in customer demand.

More Colorado Water Conservation Board coverage here.

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