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February Storms Across Colorado Help Improve Water Supply Outlook

Como Snow Course in the Upper South Platte region

An active storm cycle developed in early February and continued for most of the month, which helped boost snowpack and precipitation numbers for all major river basins.

Denver, CO – March 6th, 2024 – An active storm cycle developed in early February and continued for most of the month, which helped boost snowpack and precipitation numbers for all major river basins. Additionally, early March storms added to snow totals in the central and northern mountains bring the statewide snowpack to 100 percent of median. February precipitation was above normal in all major basins, ranging from 102 percent of median in the South Platte River basin to 154 percent of median in the combined Yampa-White-Little Snake River basin.  NRCS Hydrologist Zack Wilson comments that, “The abundant snowfall received across the state during February is a welcome sight, especially for the southern basins, which have struggled to reach normal conditions after a particularly dry fall and early winter.” All basins currently have near normal or slightly above normal snowpack, except for the Arkansas, Upper Rio Grande, and combined San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan River basins which are below normal at 89, 86, and 90 percent of median, respectively. 

Colorado Febuary 2024 precipitation totals

The above normal precipitation received during February has also contributed to improved streamflow volume forecasts compared to last month.  Statewide streamflow forecasts were 83 percent of median on February 1st and have increased to 93 percent of median on March 1st.  Current basin wide streamflow forecasts range from a high of 107 percent of median in the combined Yampa-White-Little Snake River basins to a low of 78 percent of median in the combined San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan River basins.  37 of 87 forecast points across the state are now predicting stream flows of at least 95 percent of normal or higher.  Wilson continued further, “Although all streamflow forecasts have improved since last month, many of the streamflow forecast points are still predicting below normal streamflow volumes and these are mostly observed in the southern basins. The first dust-on-snow events were also recently observed in these portions of Colorado and could potentially cause earlier and faster snowmelts, altering the timing of snowmelt-runoff season.”

Reservoir storage did not see considerable changes compared to last month and current statewide storage is 100 percent of median; ranging from a high of 119 percent of median for the Upper Rio Grande River basin to a low of 80 percent of median for the Eastern Arkansas River basin.  With a little over a month until typical peak snowpack, there’s still some time for conditions to improve further.

Colorado’s Snowpack and Reservoir Storage as of March 1st, 2024

Snowpack and reservoir statistics for March 1st, 2024 in Colorado

* San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan River basin

* *For more detailed information about February mountain snowpack refer to the March 1st, 2024 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report. For the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website