#Snowpack news:

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

From Weather Nation TV (Chris Bianchi) via The Cañon City Daily Record:

Colorado statewide snowpack levels are running well above average following a recent run of snowstorms, based on official data this week from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Statewide snowpack is running at 116% of season-to-date average, a slight boost from snow levels earlier this year. This is partially as a result of a recent run of February snowstorms that has ski resorts like Steamboat Springs (275 inches of seasonal snowfall, as of Friday), Breckenridge (273 inches) and Wolf Creek (261 inches) already closing in on 300 inches of annual snowfall.

Highest snowpack levels are in Colorado’s northern mountains, although each of the state’s eight major river basins were reporting above-average snowpack levels, as of Wednesday. In the South Platte river basin (east of the Continental Divide, including the Front Range), snowpack levels were running at 131% of average, the highest of the state’s eight basins.

A major storm system slammed much of northern Colorado with as much as 51 inches of snow last week, contributing to the increased snowpack figures.

Utah snowpack basin-filled map February 15, 2020 via the NRCS.

From The Deseret News (Amy Joi O’Donoghue):

Utah’s snowpack across the state is sitting at 121% of normal and the reservoirs on average are in pretty great shape — 80% full — but forecasters are still yearning for a cold and wet March.

Soils are pretty dry, and in particularly in the southwest region of Utah, precipitation activity has all but dried up since Thanksgiving.

At a water supply forecast meeting earlier this week at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, senior hydrologist Brian McInerney emphasized there is much to be happy about, however…

In northern Utah, the weather pattern has been gracious when it comes to snowpack totals, with the Bear River drainage at 121% of normal, the Weber-Ogden river basin at 114% and Provo-Jordan at 122%.

Gary Henrie, with the Provo Area Office of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said across Utah reservoirs are in much better position than they were a year ago — at 80% capacity compared to 60%.

The water year, in fact, has been a mirror image of the 2019 precipitation rate, with snow in northern Utah piling on with frequent storm activity.

There are have been some instances of extremes, however.

Northern Utah struggled through an extremely cold spell in October and November, and even though St. George endured 155 days during the 2019 calendar year without any measurable precipitation, it was the wettest calendar year on record and the second wettest water year logged there…

…officials with Salt Lake County Flood Control and Salt Lake City Department of PublicUtilities, in coordination with the State Engineer’s Office, announced plans to open gates on Utah Lake to allow more water to flow to the Jordan River and Surplus Canal.

Officials are taking the move this weekend to accommodate above-average snowpack and higher-than-average water levels in Utah Lake, Deer Creek Reservoir and Jordanelle Reservoir, a news release from the county stated.

West Drought Monitor February 11, 2020.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Colorado’s snowpack remains above-average this winter, with a wet start to February helping to make up for what, in much of the state, was a drier-than-normal January.

But streamflow forecasts for the state are below-average. That reflects in part precipitation that as of Feb. 1 was 88% of average statewide for the latest water year, which started Oct. 1 and includes rain as well as snowfall.

Snowpack was at 110% of normal Friday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. That’s down from 118% at the start of the year, but snowpack had dropped to 106% at the end of January before recent storms hit much of the state. Those storms made travel perilous but also blessed ski areas and bolstered the outlook for spring runoff and water supplies for irrigators, municipalities and other purposes…

It currently is above 100% of median for every major river basin in the state. The Gunnison River Basin is on the low end among basins, at 105%. The Upper Colorado River Basin in Colorado is at 114%, and the South Platte basin leads the state at 117%.

Levels on Grand Mesa are currently running a bit below-normal…

Even with the decent snowpack this winter, spring and summer streamflow forecasts look less promising, particularly in western and southern basins. According to the NRCS, streamflows for the Yampa/White, Arkansas and South Platte basins are expected to be at 98, 97 and 96% of average, respectively. But the forecast for the Upper Colorado River is for streamflows at 91% of average. For the Gunnison, the prediction is 81%. Streamflows for the Rio Grande and combined San Miguel/Dolores/Animas/San Juan basins currently are expected to be at 77 and 76% of average, respectively.

The federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center says that as of Feb. 1, overall Upper Colorado River Basin flows into Lake Powell were expected to be about 80% of normal. Water storage in Powell is only at about half of the reservoir’s capacity, reflecting long-term drought during the 21st century.

The center says water-year precipitation so far is at 90% of average for the Upper Colorado River Basin above Powell. Precipitation is 85% of average for the Gunnison River Basin.

Much of western and southern Colorado, including all of Mesa County, is in moderate drought. In terms of snowfall, southern Colorado was the driest part of the state in January. Cody Moser, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, noted that soil moisture conditions there are below average as well. That figures into streamflow predictions, as more snowmelt may percolate into dry soil rather than reaching streams…

Moser said precipitation in January and into this month has favored northern Colorado over southern Colorado. He said moist weather systems have been coming from the Pacific Northwest into northern Utah and southwest Wyoming, and into northern Colorado…

Statewide reservoir storage in Colorado was at 105% of average for Feb. 1. It was above 100% everywhere but in the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins. Storage in the Upper Colorado River Basin in Colorado was at 110% of average Feb. 1; in the Gunnison it was at 104%.

From The Sacramento Bee (Dale Kasler):

California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation.

And while the rainy season still has more than two months left, a persistent high-pressure ridge over the Pacific is keeping wet weather at bay, just as it did during the five-year drought, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. Swain said it’s possible parts of Northern California “could go completely dry in the month of February.”

Private weather forecaster Jan Null said there’s only a 15 percent chance of precipitation levels hitting normal levels. “That’s not where I’m going to put my money on the table,” said Null, founder of Golden Gate Weather Services in Half Moon Bay…

Sacramento could be heading into record territory: So far the city hasn’t received any rain in February, a month that normally sees 3.69 inches. The driest February in recorded history in Sacramento saw 0.04 inches of rain, according to Michelle Mead of the National Weather Service.

Fresno hasn’t seen any rain this month, either. The same with Merced.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack is 40 percent below normal. The Department of Water Resource’s eight-station index for the northern Sierra, a closely-watched gauge of precipitation in the mountains and foothills, is 42 percent below normal.

From Northern Water:

Northern Water’s Snowpack and Streamflow Comparisons reports show snow-water content comparisons and streamflow forecasts for the watersheds in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Northern Water publishes the reports on this page from the beginning of February through the beginning of May. Go to the SnoWatch Snowpack Data page for snowpack data from remote Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) platforms in eight watersheds, covering an area from west of Loveland, CO to east of Kremmling, CO.

February 2020 Streamflow Forecast

February 1 snowpack is at or above average in most basins except for Willow Creek. Streamflow forecasts are generally a bit lower than we would normally expect with these snowpack conditions due to the impacts of the hot and dry conditions in late summer 2019 on soil moisture. The forecast for most basins is around 90-100% of average, though Willow Creek is lower due to the lower snowpack.

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

Snow water equivalency (SWE) [in the San Juan River wateshed] is currently 19.1 inches. Last week it was 18.7 inches.

The SWE median has gone from 19.5 inches to 20.5 inches this week.

This week, the SWE is currently 93.2 percent of median, when last week, it was 95.9 percent of median.

Precipitation data is currently 19.7 inches, when last week, it was 19.1 inches.

The precipitation average is 23.7 inches. Last week it was 22.2 inches.

This week, precipitation is 83.1 percent of median. Last week, it was 86 percent of median.

And, here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map for February 15, 2020 via the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map February 15, 2020 via the NRCS.

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