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April News Release

NRCS Colorado Snow Survey and Water Supply News Release

For Immediate Release   Contact: Mage Hultstrand
Assistant Snow Survey Supervisor
Office Number: 720-544-2855
Fax Number: 720-544-2963
E-Mail: mage.hultstrand@co.usda.gov

 

COLORADO'S SNOWPACK HOLDING STEADY

 

April 3, 2014

Denver, CO - April 3, 2014 – The latest snow measurements conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), indicate that Colorado's statewide snowpack continues to track above normal. Surveys conducted on April 1, show statewide snowpack at 115 percent of median, which is 156 percent of the snowpack measured one year ago.  The current statewide report continues the trend of above normal totals that have been measured throughout this winter. This is great news for the state’s major water users who rely on the melting snowpack for the majority of their spring and summer surface water supplies.

March brought a continuation of previous weather patterns, with most storms favoring the northern mountains ranges while storm systems in the southern mountains were few and far between.  Unfortunately, the storm systems passing through during March lacked the moisture that the previous month’s systems had. As a result, the majority of snowpack totals for the major basins across the state showed slight decreases in percentages. In fact only two of the major basins, the Colorado basin and the Yampa, White and North Platte basins, recorded snowpack percentages that improved compared to last month. At 142 percent of median, the South Platte River basin boasts the highest basin wide total in the state; the basin has not recorded snowpack levels this high since 2011.

With all the northern basins continuing to report above normal snowpack percentages, the outlook for spring and summer water supplies in these regions is excellent.  Across the Colorado, South Platte, Yampa, White and North Platte basins and the headwater portions of the Gunnison and Arkansas basin’s, runoff volumes are currently anticipated to be well above normal this season. Meanwhile, the latest measurements show snowpack conditions across the southern mountains continuing to track below normal for the third consecutive month.  April 1 measurements put the Upper Rio Grande basin at just 79 percent of median, and the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins at 80 percent of median.  The effect of this is that spring and summer streamflow volumes are expected to be below normal across southwestern Colorado this year.  While there is still a possibility for spring snowstorms to improve conditions in these basins, the chances are extremely low given that the normal maximum snowpack is typically reached in the first week of April.

At the end of March reservoir storage across the state was holding steady at 89 percent of average. The northern basins are all reporting storage above or near normal for this time of year while the Arkansas, Upper Rio Grande, and southwest basins all have below normal storage.

The table below shows Colorado’s snowpack and reservoir storage as of April 1, 2014.

Basin

Snowpack
% of Median

Snowpack
% of Last Year

Reservoir Storage
% of Average

Last Year's

Reservoir Storage
% of Average

Gunnison 112 157 95 70
Colorado 131 165 93 65
South Platte 142 200 108 89
North Platte 141 172 --- ---
Yampa/White 125 158 105 98
Arkansas 112 156 60 49
Rio Grande 79 117 70 52
San Miguel, Dolores, Animas & San Juan 79 111 82 66
Statewide 115 156 89 69

For additional information about Colorado’s water supply conditions, please visit:

http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/

 

 

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