Snowpack

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service reported early-season snow accumulations are encouraging for an ample water supply in the current water year in the Jan. 1 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report.

Generous snowfall in October, November and December brought every major river basin above normal snowpack.

The Arkansas River Basin stands at 130 percent of median following two December storm cycles that added several inches of snow water to mountain snowpacks.

Statewide, the snowpack stands at 119 percent of median for the current water year, which began Oct. 1.

“With about three months remaining for the typical snow accumulation season, this puts the mountain snowpack in a good position that could help buffer against any dry spells that may occur in the coming months,” the report stated.

Reservoir storage varies across the state, but as a whole sits at about 106 percent of average.

Currently the Arkansas River Basin storage is below average at 98 percent.

The Upper Rio Grande Basin is also below average at 86 percent.

Storage in the other major basins ranges from 104-124 percent of average.

Despite a dry late summer and fall, early snow accumulations point to an ample water supply, but normal snowpack peak is still several months away.

Streamflow forecasts across the state are relatively consistent.

NRCS hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer said, “While it is common to see notable geographic trends in forecasts across the state, current water supply forecasts are generally near to slightly below average volumes in all major basins of Colorado.

“Ninety percent of water supply forecasts in Colorado currently lie between 85-115 percent of their average volumes,” he said.

The average of forecasts in the Arkansas Basin is 104 percent of normal volumes, which is on the high end of basin forecasts.

Overall, things are off to a good start with respect to prospective water supply with ample reservoir storage and above-normal snowpack, an NRCS news release stated.

However, with several months until the primary snowmelt runoff season, a lot can change, the NRCS cautioned.

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