#Snowpack/#Runoff news: @USBR’s #ColoradoRiver Basin inflow projections reflect improved hydrological conditions in 2019 #COriver #aridification

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 16, 2019 via the NRCS.

From email from Reclamation (Marlon Duke/Patti Aaron):

The Bureau of Reclamation today updated its monthly 24-month study projections, indicating improved hydrological conditions throughout the Colorado River Basin. Current snowpack in the Upper Basin is nearly 140 percent of average, with a forecasted inflow to Lake Powell of 92 percent of average for water year 2019.

“We are pleased to see the above average snowpack conditions in the Upper Basin and the improvement in the inflow forecast for Lake Powell,” said Reclamation Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees. “Significant risks and uncertainty persist and storage at Lake Powell remains essential to the overall well-being of the basin.”

“These developments may lessen the chance of shortage in 2020,” said Reclamation Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp. “However, one near- or even above-average year will not end the ongoing extended drought experienced in the Colorado River Basin and does not substantially reduce the risks facing the basin.”

In Reclamation’s March 2019 24-Month Study Lake Powell’s releases are projected to increase to 9.0 maf in water year 2019. Lake Mead’s elevation is projected to be 1,080.85 feet by year’s end.

The operating tiers for Lake Powell in water year 2020 and the operating condition for Lake Mead in calendar year 2020 will be determined based on the projected conditions on January 1, 2020, as reported in the August 2019 24-Month Study.

The March 2019 24-Month Study can be accessed at https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/24mo.pdf