Colorado snowpack worst in more than 30 years; water suppliers on high alert | AspenTimes.com

Colorado snowpack worst in more than 30 years; water suppliers on high alert

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

A view of a light dusting of snow on the mountains west of Salida on Thursday, January 4, 2018. Colorado is experiencing a record low snowfall during the 2017-18 winter season. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Colorado mountain snowpack shrunk to record-low levels this week, raising concerns about water supply, and some federal authorities calculated even big late snow — if it falls — may not make up for the lag.

Survey crews have measured snow depths in southwestern Colorado at 22 percent of normal, the upper Colorado River Basin at 65 percent of normal and the Arkansas River Basin at 49 percent of normal. National Weather Service meteorologists forecast limited snow through mid-January, though they also see a possibility that ocean-driven atmospheric patterns will shift by March and bring snow.

Colorado natural resources officials plan to review "emerging drought conditions" next week. While most of Colorado currently is classified as abnormally dry, areas of the Western Slope are officially in drought.

But the Colorado mountain snowpack that feeds the nation's main rivers hasn't been this paltry statewide in the more than three decades since systematic measuring began, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos said.

"There's definitely concern," he said. "Can we count on a big spring dump to save us at this point? No, I certainly wouldn't count on that."

For more on this story, go to denverpost.com.

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