Where #Colorado’s #snowpack stands (April 28, 2022) as #water, fire concerns grow heading into summer — The #Denver Channel

Colorado snowpack basin-filled map April 28, 2022 via the NRCS.

Click the link to read the article on The Denver Channel website (Blair Miller). Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado’s statewide snowpack sat at 82% of median [Thursday] compared to the last 30 years but is already past its peak amid water concerns in the Colorado River Basin and more than a dozen wildfires that have burned across the state over the past two weeks…

Colorado hit its median snowpack peak on April 8, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It sat at 92% of median levels on Monday, with just two of the state’s eight river basins – the Gunnison (101%) and Upper Colorado Headwaters (100%) – at or above median levels. The Laramie and North Platte (98%), South Platte (92%), Yampa and White (92%) basins were all slightly below median levels. And the Arkansas (85%), Upper Rio Grande (84%), and the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan (80%) basins were slightly further below median levels. Statewide, the snowpack’s trajectory is about on par with median levels for the period of 1991-2020, according to USDA/NRCS data…

Colorado statewide snowpack graph April 28, 2022 via the NRCS.

The snowpack is in a slightly better place at this point than it was last year, slightly worse than this point in 2020, and about right in between the above-average year of 2019 and well-below-average year of 2018. It is at 81% of the median peak for the period of 1991-2020. Peter Goble, a research associate at Colorado State University who also works at the Colorado Climate Center at CSU, said the snowpack is slightly better than last year, and as the climate warms, the West should expect shorter snow seasons and lower peak snowpack levels…

State of Colorado water year precipitation April 28, 2022 via the NRCS.

Another dataset shows southern Colorado is well behind its normal precipitation levels for the month of April so far based on SNOTEL measurements. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan (48%) and Gunnison (49%) have both received about half the normal precipitation they typically receive by this point in April. And the Upper Rio Grande (59%) and Arkansas (61%) basins have fared slightly better this month but are still well below normal levels…

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 27, 2022 via the NRCS.

Meanwhile, the northern four basins are all near or above normal precipitation for the month. The Laramie and North Platte (138%), Yampa and White (106%), and South Platte (97%) were all close to or slightly above normal levels. The Upper Colorado Headwaters basin sat at 89% of normal in terms of April precipitation as of Monday, according to the USDA/NRCS data.

Southern Utah and eastern Nevada, part of the Colorado River Basin, have also been extremely dry so far this April and are seeing snowpack levels below 50% of median for this time of year. While snowpack in Wyoming and Colorado, where the headwaters of the rivers that feed the Colorado begin, is still close to median levels in most spots, every basin in Utah and Nevada was below 90% of median as of Monday…

An April 1 water forecast from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center said as of the start of the month, snow water equivalent levels were between 75% and 105% in the Upper Colorado River Basin and 65%-85% of normal in the Great Basin. But forecast ranges for water supply were all below 100% of normal. Monday’s latest water supply forecasts show levels in the 70-90% range generally across Colorado’s Western Slope, moving into the 50-70% range the further southwest one goes…

Colorado Drought Monitor map April 26, 2022.

Meanwhile, drought in Colorado has remained mostly unchanged over the past three months. Eighty-three percent of the state is experiencing moderate or worse drought – with only the metro area and parts of the Western Slope seeing abnormally dry conditions. Most of the western half of the state is seeing moderate or severe drought, according to last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor release.

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