During the fall season water managers in the Colorado River Basin start looking at the outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center. This is particularly important in the Upper Basin where 90% of the river flows come from snowpack accumulation. Weather patterns this year will be influenced by a third La Niña in a row.
The southern tier of the CONUS trends drier in La Niña winters. Thankfully, La Niña influences in the Upper Basin (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming) are mixed and snowfall can be ample in these headwater states.
So what is the Climate Prediction Center forecast through December 31, 2022? Here are the precipitation, temperature, and drought outlooks and it looks like much of the last year warm and dry. However, if you look at the Colorado River in Colorado drought is expected to re-develop in the headwaters there.
I said we’d look at the outlooks through March 31, 2022 so here you go.
The outlook through March 31, 2023 is mostly “Equal chances” which tells us that the CPC is leaning on history and the current La Niña.
This is the Upper Colorado River Basin dilemma — we won’t know how much water we have in our largest reservoir (the snowpack) until next Spring and actual streamflow until the end of the Summer runoff season.