Near Normal #Snowpack Across #Colorado, But Low February Precipitation — @NRCS_CO

Click the link to read the release on the NRCS Colorado website (Brian Domonkos):

Largely due to the storms from late December, mountain snowpack and water year-to-date precipitation across major Colorado river basins remain near-normal (median). Currently, Colorado statewide snowpack is 96 percent of normal, ranging from a low of 86 percent in the Yampa-White-Little Snake to a high of 109 percent of normal in the Gunnison river basin. However, along with January, February precipitation for much of Colorado was far below normal. For example, the Colorado Headwaters has 95 percent of normal snowpack, but February precipitation was 63 percent of normal. Similar trends are seen in most of the central and northern basins. The southern basins in the state fared better with more February precipitation. It is important to note that percent of normal values have been updated from the 1980-2010 period to 1990-2020. More information about the normal updates can be found here.

Statewide reservoir storage is 75 percent of median. Currently, southwest Colorado has the lowest reservoir storage in the state with 61 percent of normal in the Gunnison and 64 percent in the combined San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan river basins. The highest reservoir storage is in the South Platte at 108 percent of normal. While not in the state of Colorado, it is worth noting the existing historic low conditions of Lake Meade and Powell which inevitably affect water resources and decisions for much of the Colorado river basin.

“While the snowpack remains near normal, it’s important to consider the antecedent conditions heading into this winter”, remarks Cole Greensmith, Hydrologist for the Colorado Snow Survey. Greensmith explains, “Several years of low summer precipitation, high summer temperatures combined with dry soils, suggest lower streamflow forecasts despite snowpack levels.” Current statewide streamflow projections are 88 percent of normal. The decline in streamflow forecast volumes is representative of lower precipitation levels in January and February combined with the long-term drought conditions. Historically, March is the snowiest month for Colorado, which we need to bolster the snowpack. If precipitation amounts do not increase in March through the rest of winter, we could be facing a truncated and below average streamflow runoff season this spring and summer.

Leave a Reply