Here’s the release from the NRCS (Brian Domonkos):
The beginning of water year 2017, which started on October 1, 2016, experienced an extremely slow start. What little precipitation fell came in the form of rain, and warm autumn temperatures prevented snow from accumulating in all but the highest elevations. From the beginning of the water year through November 17th, 2016, statewide Colorado snowpack was off to the worst start in over 32 years at 6% of normal and year-to-date precipitation ranked in the bottom tenth percentile. “At that point prospects for reaching normal snowpack conditions by January 1st, 2017 were bleak and chances of achieving normal snowpack by late April, when snowpack typically peaks, looked doubtful” said Brian Domonkos, Snow Survey Supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation s Service.
November 17th, 2016 was a real turning point for snowpack. Late summer quickly turned to winter and mountain snow began to accumulate quickly. According to automated Colorado Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) data, from November 17th through January 1st, 2017 snowpack in the mountains grew at the fastest rate dating back to 1986, with an statewide gain of 7.4 inches of snow water equivalent (SWE). That increase is greater than 1997, 2008, and 2011 for that same period in their respective years.
Providing more current information Domonkos went on to say, “As of January 1st 2017 Colorado statewide snowpack is a healthy 114% of normal, riding in on the back of a December which saw 171% of normal precipitation.” Late November and December precipitation boosted statewide year-to-date precipitation from nearly 30% of normal on November 17th to 98% of normal on the first of this month. Combined reservoir storages in the state of Colorado rounds out 2016 at 105% of normal. The start of water year 2017 has been one of extremes, so far ending up on the favorable side.
At the time of this news release, streamflow forecasts are not available, but will be provided in detail in the January 1, 2017 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report when it is made available.
For more detailed and the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and supporting water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website at:
Or contact Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor at Brian.Domonkos@co.usda.gov or 720-544-2852.