#Drought news (December 31, 2021): Persistent storms delivering optimism, welcome moisture — The #GrandJunction Daily Sentinel #snowpack #runoff

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Recent snowstorms, followed by even more snowstorms, are providing much-needed moisture and even some optimism that perhaps this winter could bring relief from the persistent drought that has been gripping the region.

“We’re certainly hopeful and optimistic at this point. It certainly looks a whole lot better than it did a year ago, for sure,” said Molina rancher Carlyle Currier.

He noted that one National Resources Conservation Service snow measurement site on Grand Mesa, at Park Reservoir, was at about 160% of normal Monday.

“We’re not that far below what it peaked at last winter, better than three-fourths of what it peaked at the first of April … so that’s really wonderful,” said Currier.

That speaks to the paucity of snow last year on Grand Mesa and in much of western Colorado, but also to the recent abundance of snowfall that has vastly improved the state’s snowpack status in just a matter of weeks.

That boosts hopes for more spring runoff that will benefit farmers and ranchers, municipal water providers and the environment…

As of Monday, snowpack had grown to 118% of median in the Gunnison River Basin, 104% in the upper Colorado River Basin and 112% in the combined San Miguel/Dolores/Animas/San Juan basins.

The Arkansas River has the lowest snowpack of any major basin in the state, at 76% of normal…

Currier, who is president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said this year’s snow has fallen on ground that was a lot wetter from rain in the fall. When last winter’s snowpack melted, it soaked into dry soils, reducing how much reached reservoirs and irrigation ditches…

Boyer said about the current weather pattern, “We’ve got this big deep trough that’s transitioning over the western U.S., and we’re right kind of in the base of that trough. It’s ejecting little pulses of energy right across Colorado, so as soon as it hits the mountains, it pretty much creates a snow event for us.”

[…]

The system has been favoring snow higher in the mountains, where there were reports of 6 to 8 inches for the most part having fallen over the previous 24 hours, Boyer said Monday…

Powderhorn got only 2 inches in that timeframe, but collected 10 inches of snow on Christmas Eve, he said.

Grand Junction also received its first official measurable snow of the season on Christmas Eve, when an inch fell at the National Weather Service office at the Grand Junction Regional Airport. On average, the city’s first measurable snow falls on Nov. 17; the latest-ever measurable snow in the city didn’t arrive until Jan. 5.

Grand Junction officially got 0.03 inches of precipitation Sunday, a lot of that consisting of snow that melted when it hit the ground, Boyer said…

Currier said this year is reminding him of 1977, which was extremely dry but was wet in the fall and was followed by an extremely wet winter.

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