#Snowpack news: A beautiful storm

From 9News.com (Kristen Aguirre):

Some much needed rain and snow fell the past two days – but not where Colorado really needed it.

The Southern part of Colorado is seeing some of the worst drought conditions since September 2013. Those conditions are impacting farmers, the fire danger and our water supply…

“It’s kind of like water in the bank,” 9NEWS Meteorologist Cory Reppenhagen said. “We have that snowpack, we know how much is there, we can kind of figure out how much is going to melt and run down.”


We’re at almost 50 percent of the average snowpack. 80 percent of our water comes from snow – that’s 4 out of 5 cups of water. Reppenhagen says when the snowpack is this low, water managers start to get nervous…

Things are especially dry in the southern part of the state. The drought monitor map shows an expanding level of severe drought.

From Discover Magazine (Tom Yulsman):

Given the dearth of snow, less than half of the average amount of runoff is forecast to run off from the mountains into Lake Powell along the Colorado River between April and August. As of May 1st, the forecast is for flows into Lake Powell — the second largest reservoir in the West — to reach just 43 percent of average.

If conditions turn out to be unusually warm and dry, that number could drop significantly.

The situation is particularly grim in New Mexico, with some areas having essentially no snow. With runoff dramatically depleted, a 19-mile stretch of the Rio Grande has already dried up. Portions of the river don’t typically go dry until August.

Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico’s largest, is forecast to be at just 5 percent capacity this summer.

What we’re experiencing today is no fluke. The average snowpack in U.S. western states has dropped by 15 to 30 percent since 1915.

The cause is not so much declines in snowfall as warming temperatures, in large measure a result of humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases. In fact, recent studies have shown that “a given level of winter snowpack today results in less river runoff than in the past,” according to a report issued in March by the Colorado River Research Group…

New Mexico has seen a particularly significant warming trend. Average temperatures in the Rio Grande basin have risen a bit less than 1 degree F per decade between 1971 and 2011.

Warming isn’t the only way that we are influencing river flows in the West. Another is a phenomenon known as “dust on snow.”

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Foothill Front Range Pikes Peak Back-Roads

Snow drop early May
perks up the Ramparts,

bridges the South Platte
and the Arkansas,

leaks into the pores
of recurrent ancestral

well springs.

Greg Hobbs, May 6, 2018

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map May 3, 2018 via the NRCS.