#Snowpack/Runoff news: North Platte River Basin best in state = 102% of normal

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April, 24, 2018 via the NRCS.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Despite subpar snow accumulation in the heart of winter 2017/18, the snowpack in the mountains near Steamboat Springs — and with it, the water supply that refresh the river — has continued deeper into the spring than is normal.

Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service told Steamboat Today in May 2017 that snowpack typically peaks in this region April 10. The good news for irrigators and paddlers is that the snowpack has continued to build into April 2018.

Improbably, the meager snowpack that accumulated in January and February has been compensated for by heavy spring snow at elevations above 9,000 feet. And that bodes well for filling reservoirs and fueling kayak play parks.

The Yampa peaked at 2,640 cfs in 2017.

The view of the upper Yampa Valley from the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass this week belies the amount of water yet to flow from the southern end of the Park Range and feed spring runoff in the Yampa River.

From a pullout on U.S. Highway 40, it was plain to see April 21 that the valley floor was completely devoid of snow and low elevation runoff from the hay meadows is complete.

The Yampa River was flowing well below the median for the date at 320 cubic feet per second April 22, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But that same day, the river began to rise steeply until it reached 600 cfs on April 24.

That flow was still a little more than 200 cfs below median for the date. But the current trend doesn’t necessarily signal a weak spring runoff.

The Conservation Service was reporting Tuesday that the water stored in the remaining snow in the mountains of the Yampa/White River Basin has climbed to 89 percent of median this spring. On the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass, the number is 93 percent of median.

Colorado snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos reported this month that Northwest Colorado represents the healthiest snowpack in the state. And the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, predicts the Yampa will begin to climb through April 29 to almost 700 cfs when the National Weather Service expects daily high temperatures on the valley floor to range into the mid- to high-60s on Friday and Saturday.

From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

After a winter of below-average snowfall, Steamboat Springs water providers have implemented Stage 2 water restrictions that will go into effect Tuesday.

The restrictions will impact customers of Mount Werner Water, the city of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat II Metro District and Tree Haus Metro District.

Among the restrictions, homeowners will only be allowed to water their lawns on certain days in an effort to conserve water…

As of Tuesday, the snowpack on Buffalo Pass was 91 percent of average. For most of the winter the snowpack was below 80 percent of average.

Before enacting restrictions, water providers also look at long-term weather forecasts.

According to the three-month outlook prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 33 percent chance that precipitation in the region will be below average during the next three months. There is a 40 percent chance that the temperatures will be above average…

During Stage 2 water restrictions, no outdoor watering is allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

People with an odd-numbered address are only allowed to water on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Those with an even-numbered address can water Sunday, Tuesday and Friday. No one is allowed to water on Wednesdays.

If one irrigation system is used by multiple addresses, either schedule can be used.

Special permits can be issued for new lawns and trees.

People washing their vehicles at home should use a bucket and a spring-loaded hose nozzle.

Drinking water should not be used to clean hard surfaces like driveways and sidewalks.

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