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News Release

First 2012 Snow Survey Report Shows Above Normal Snowpack, Precipitation

Snow survey team member checks snow levels.

Streamflow levels forecasted below normal

PHOENIX, January 1, 2012 - NRCS released its first snow survey report for 2012. As of January 1, snowpack levels are generally well above normal throughout the state, with the exception of the Chuska Mountains. Precipitation for December was also well above normal in all major river basins. The Salt and Verde River reservoir system stands at 71 percent of capacity, while San Carlos Reservoir is at only two percent of capacity. The first forecast of the season calls for well below normal runoff in the Salt, Verde and Little Colorado River Basins, and below normal runoff in the San Francisco-Upper Gila River Basin for the spring runoff period.

The initial streamflow forecasts for the season are partially based on a moderate La Niña event, which typically exhibits drier conditions into the spring. In spite of the current above normal snowpacks across much of Arizona and western New Mexico, the dry outlook for January (and beyond) results in below median to well below median forecasts.

Data on snow water content, total precipitation and air temperature are also collected daily from Arizona’s 21 SNOTEL (snow telemetry) sites. The data collected by the SNOTEL system is transmitted by radio signals, which bounce off meteor trails 50 miles above the earth. NRCS and its cooperative snow surveyors have been measuring snowpacks and estimating spring runoff in Arizona since 1935. See the complete report at www.az.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/watersupply/outlookreports/index.html.

For more information about the NRCS-Arizona SNOTEL program, contact Dino DeSimone at 602-280-8786.

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