NRCS: Traditionally Wet March & April Disappoint

Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Brian Domokos):

Denver, CO – May 4th, 2017 – March and April are typically the two wettest and most pivotal months of the year in the mountains of Colorado, however this year those two months fell short. “Combined, March and April yielded 76% of normal precipitation,” said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado Snow Survey Program. Year-to-date precipitation is down over the last three months at 108% of normal on May 1, 2017. After impressive midwinter snowpack numbers dwindled this spring due to these dry conditions, statewide snowpack according to combined SNOTEL and Snow Course data now sits at 95% of normal. However, additional snow accumulation since May 1 has improved conditions slightly in most basins. The precipitation this week delivered the greatest improvements in those high elevation basins where the least amount of snowmelt has occurred, such as in the North and South Platte River basins.

Statewide Basin Times Series Summary May 4, 2017 via the NRCS.

Domonkos points out, “Snowfall between December and January this year was nearly twice the normal amount and was the real driving force behind many basins achieving above normal peaks, which ultimately balanced out the water year starting on October 1, 2016.” Snowpack peaks in the southern half of Colorado were between 120% and 130% of their typical snowpack peak. Northern basins saw lesser peaks this year – yet all still respectable. Only the North Platte River basin peaked below the normal value. The Upper Rio Grande and combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River basins reached the greatest snowpack peak since 2008. In general snowpack contribution to water supply should be near normal across the state.

Statewide reservoir storage between this year and last year remain at some of the best levels in over a decade and the state’s reservoirs are poised in a strong position to provide water this summer. Streamflow forecasts are not quite as strong in various areas of the state. The potential for below normal streamflow exists in scattered locations across the state such as the Yampa and White and portions of the South Platte. Elsewhere forecasts are largely near normal across the state with the exception on the opposite extreme being the Gunnison Basin where a number of forecasts are near 140% of normal. Specific forecasts can be found online or in the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report.

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 – – 720-544-2852.

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