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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
Colorado’s peak snowpack was about 75 percent of normal this year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service said Friday.
That peak occurred from early to mid-March, about a month earlier than normal. April precipitation didn’t help things, being only 71 percent of normal statewide, the federal agency said. Statewide snowpack was just 61 percent of normal May 1.
May 1 snowpack ranged from 25 percent of normal for the Rio Grande River basin to 96 percent for the South Platte.
The Colorado basin was at 68 percent, and the Gunnison, 53. The Yampa/White basins were at just 46 percent; the Arkansas, 89; the North Platte, 61; and the San Juan/Animas/Dolores/San Miguel, 36.
Colorado’s 75 percent snowpack peak will mean a corresponding 25 percent drop-off from normal when it comes to this year’s snowmelt contribution to streamflows. Brian Domonkos, hydrologist with the NRCS Colorado Snow Survey Program, said in a news release that other factors such as spring rain also can affect streamflows and water supply.
“Monthly precipitation has been well below normal in nearly every basin for the last two months, which carries more weight since March … and April are the two months of the year in which Colorado typically receives the most precipitation. Additionally, April often provides rain at the lower elevations, which does not add to the snowpack, but often augments streamflow. Largely that rain has not come to Colorado,” he said.
He said that these and other factors “paint a poor streamflow forecast picture for much of the state heading into spring and summer.”
One bright spot continues to be reservoir storage, which is at 108 percent of average statewide. Storage by basin is at 129 for the Colorado, 123 for the Gunnison, 120 for the Yampa/White, 113 percent for the South Platte, 85 for the San Juan/Animas/Dolores/San Miguel, 79 for the Arkansas and 75 for the Rio Grande.