#Snowpack/#Runoff news: @CSUtilities expects storage vessels to fill this season

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

From KOAA.com (Bill Folsom):

Snow in Colorado’s high country starts the transition into water-supply in just weeks. This year, the run-off is going to be above normal.

Water managers with Colorado Springs Utilities want to know just how much water. “We do a snow read twice a month. Mid month and then the end of the month,” said Josh Propernick with Colorado Springs Utilities. The measurements happen from January through April. Crews head deep into the mountains at the Continental Divide to find out how much to expect.

The measurements done by hand, add detail to other measurements done by automated sensors. “We really do depend on this data to help us kind of plan our operations for the year,” said Colorado Springs Utilities, Water Planning Supervisor, Kalsoum Abbasi, “Figure out how much room we need to make in our downstream reservoirs.”

Depth, density and weight of snow are calculated. “What I’m interested in when I’m looking at these reads, is what’s called snow-water equivalent,” said Abbasi, “So that’s how much water in inches would there be if you melted that snow column down.”

[…]

The amount of run-off from snowpack this year will be more than reservoirs in the Colorado Spring Utilities system can hold. Excess water ends up going down stream. It is a preferred scenario compared to a year ago when snowpack was well below normal because of drought conditions.

From Weather Nation:

In some of Utah, California and Colorado’s ski resorts, a full season’s snow has already been observed, with several weeks still to go in the winter snow season…

California snowpack, meanwhile, is running at an incredible 154 percent of season-to-date levels. California’s snowpack is a vital source of drinking water and helps stave off wildfires…

Colorado, meanwhile, is also enjoying a boom snow season. Buoyed by some parts of southern Colorado running at 150 percent or more of average, the Centennial State is enjoying a terrific winter filled with plenty of snow. This is particularly important for the Colorado River, which starts in the state of its namesake and provides drinking water for California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada.

From The Provers Journal (Russ Baldwin):

AGRICULTURAL

At or above normal precipitation over the last 6 months across most of South Central and Southeast Colorado has helped to improve soil moisture, especially across southeastern portions of the state, where latest Vic Soil Moisture data indicating surplus soil moisture at this time. Winter precipitation has also helped to improve conditions across South Central Colorado; however, some long term dryness continues to be indicated.

HYDROLOGIC

Latest NRCS data indicates statewide precipitation for the month of February came in at 138 percent of average, which got a boost from abundant and widespread precipitation across southwestern portions of the Colorado, where some basins indicated over 200 percent of average precipitation for the month. For the 2019 Water Year thus far, statewide precipitation is at 110 percent of average overall.

In the Arkansas Basin, February precipitation was 124 percent of average, which brings water year to date precipitation to 110 percent of average overall.

In the Rio Grande Basin, February precipitation was 175 percent of average, which brings water year to date precipitation to 109 percent of average overall.

NRCS data indicated statewide snowpack on March 1st came in at 112 percent of average overall, compared to only 73 percent of average snowpack available at this same time last year. In stark contrast to last year, the northern and southern basins across the state are at or above normal levels.

In the Arkansas Basin, March 1st snowpack came in at 128 percent of average overall, compared to only 64 percent of average snowpack available at this same time last year. Again, in stark contrast to last year, the northern and southern portions of the Arkansas Basin are at or above normal levels.

In the Rio Grande Basin, March 1st snowpack came in at 115 percent of average overall, compared to only 59 percent of the available snowpack at this same time last year.

NRCS data indicated statewide water storage came in at 83 percent of average overall at the end of February, as compared to 115 percent of average storage available statewide at this same time last year.

In the Arkansas Basin, water storage at the end of February came in at 87 percent of average overall, as compared to 134 percent of average storage available at this same time last year.

From The Summit Daily (Deepak Dutta) via The Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

The state now stands at 140 percent of normal snowpack. Southwest Colorado, which suffered the most from last year’s arid summer, is seeing anywhere from 150 to 157 percent average snowpack…

Pokrandt said that since 2000, Colorado has only had four years at or above average levels. The 2018-19 winter will be the fifth, but he said one big year does not end a long-term drought.

“If we have three or four more of these years of average snowpack, we might talk differently,” Pokrandt said. “But I would not say the drought’s back is broken.”

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 26, 2019 via the NRCS.

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