Soggy April helps some state basins
A series of wet storms crossed Colorado during April, which brought significant improvements to the state’s snowpack.
The latest snowpack surveys, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), indicate that the greatest improvements in snowpack occurred in the Arkansas, Rio Grande, South Platte and the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins. In these areas, snowpack percentages rebounded back to, or even exceeded, what was measured on March 1.
The brunt of these storms entirely missed portions of northwestern Colorado, according to Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS. The lack of additional moisture across this region sent snowpack percentages in the Yampa, White and Colorado River basins into their second month of steady declines.
The results of these latest surveys show the highest snowpack percentages occur in the Rio Grande Basin, at 102 percent of average, while the lowest percentages were measured in the Yampa and White basins, at only 53 percent of average. Statewide, snowpack totals increased only slightly this month to 68 percent of average, and 78 percent of last year’s measurements on this date.
Even after the improvements in snowpack during April, most of the state can continue to expect below average runoff volumes during the spring and summer months. Only portions of southern Colorado can expect this year’s snowmelt runoff to be near average.
Elsewhere, this year’s streamflow volumes are forecast to be consistently below average, with volumes of 50 percent of average or less across the northwestern corner of the state.
Although reservoir storage has continued to show steady improvements across most of the state, several basins remain with extremely low volumes in storage. Fortunately, these basins are located in areas which should be able to take advantage of the best snowpack
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