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Our snowpack is short of normal levels

We could be in for scant runoff this summer

The snowpack March 1 in Southwest Colorado, while slightly better than a year ago, trails all but one of the state’s seven other basins, a monthly report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service says.

“Data collected during snow surveys directly reflects what the state can expect for surface water supplies this coming spring and summer,” the NRCS report said. “The most recent streamflow forecasts point to above or well above normal volumes in most of the state’s major river basins. The exceptions will be the Rio Grande and southwest basins.”

Snowpack statistics don’t reflect snow depth, but the water equivalent of snow.

In the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel basins, the snowpack on March 1 stood at 85 percent of the 30-year median. The figure is 103 percent of last year’s level.

Only the Rio Grande Basin immediately to the east is worse off. There, the March 1 snowpack was 79 percent of the 30-year median.

The other six basins were well above the median, ranging from 109 percent in the Arkansas Basin to 151 percent of the median in the South Platte Basin. The South Platte snowpack this year was 232 percent of last year’s level.

Statewide, the snowpack was 115 percent of the median March 1 and 161 percent of the March 1, 2013, level.

State reservoirs held 89 percent of their average capacity March 1, up from 67 percent of average in 2013.

Reservoirs in the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel basins held 71 percent of average March 1. A year earlier, the reservoirs were at 66 percent of average.

The temperature of surface water in the South Pacific Ocean, which can affect precipitation in Southwest Colorado, remains neutral, the NRCS report said.

There was neither an El Niño warming of water, which increases the chance of precipitation in the state, nor a La Niña cooling of water, which brings drier conditions, the NRCS report said.


Apr 7, 2015
2015 was one of our worst for snowpack
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