#Snowpack at 142% after week of storms in Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin — KLAS #COriver (January 3, 2023)

West SWE basin-filled map January 3, 2023 via the NRCS.

Click the link to read the article on the KLAS website (Greg Haas). Here’s an excerpt:

Dec. 27 measurements of 102% snowpack in the region — just above normal — had risen to 142% as of today (Jan. 3) in the Upper Colorado River Basin. That week-to-week change is good news but demonstrates the volatility of snowpack levels. Just as rainfall makes little to no impact on the level of Lake Mead, snowpack levels in early January shouldn’t be seen as a sign that a few snowstorms will erase years of drought, experts say…The “atmospheric river” conditions that are feeding moisture into the Colorado mountains are certainly helping. That pattern was expected to end sometime this week…

Currently, snowpack conditions throughout the basin are above normal. Mountains that feed the headwaters of the Colorado River are at 129% of normal. The highest levels are in Utah, where mountains that feed the Green River are at 180% of normal snowpack and the Lower San Juan region is at 175% of normal…

And climate change’s effects are now being quantified as more data becomes available.

“In effect, temperature is opening up a gap between precipitation and streamflow,” according to Jeff Lukas of the Western Water Assessment, a team of scientists from the University of Colorado, the University of Utah and the University of Wyoming…

“In the past 40 years, a warming trend of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit has discernably impacted basin hydrology. This regional warming, like that at broader scales, has been linked to human causes,” Lukas said in summarizing a study of hydrology in the Colorado River basin released in 2000.

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