Click the link to read the article on the KUNC website (Alex Hager). Here’s an excerpt:
“Everybody is so eager to make an early call on this,” said Brad Udall, a water and climate researcher at Colorado State University. “Invariably, you’ll get caught with your pants down if you think you know what’s going to happen.”
Meanwhile, mountain snow totals are off to a promising start. Around Snowmass, the snowpack is 130% above average for this time of the year. The Roaring Fork watershed, which includes Aspen and Snowmass, makes up only 0.5% of the landmass in the Colorado River basin but provides about 10% of its water. In other nearby mountain ranges, snow totals are between 140% and 160% above average. Even if those numbers persist until spring, the severity of the Colorado River’s drought means many more years of heavy snow are needed to make a serious dent.
“It’s great to see a big snowpack,” Udall said. “We would need five or six years at 150% snowpack to refill these reservoirs. And that is extremely unlikely.”
A string of wet years is unlikely because of rising temperatures driven by climate change, Udall said. Since 1970, temperatures in the Colorado River Basin have gone up by three degrees Fahrenheit. Those higher temperatures have already caused a 15% dropoff in streamflows across the region…Warming has driven a raft of worrying environmental changes across the region. In recent years, scientists have sounded the alarm about soils drying out. The ground has become parched and soaks up snowmelt before the water has a chance to reach the places where people divert and collect it. Already, Udall said, winters with 90% of average snowpack have led to springtimes with only 50% runoff because thirsty soil acts like a sponge.