Snowpack still bleak, but South Platte, upper Colorado rivers in decent shape | MyWindsorNow.com

Snowpack still bleak, but South Platte, upper Colorado rivers in decent shape

Tyler Silvy
tsilvy@greeleytribune.com

Randy Ray, executive director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, stands on one of the gates used to direct the flow of water outside of Gilcrest in this Tribune file photo. The latest snowpack numbers suggest farmers along the South Platte River should be in better shape than others in the state.

With mountain runoff already starting at lower elevations, low snowpack levels appear to have already sealed streamflow fates across the state.

The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service snowpack report for March, released Thursday, shows forecast streamflows between 30-70 percent of normal across the state. That's persistently low precipitation throughout the winter — 65 percent of normal for the state.

The three-month National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast predicts dry and warm conditions through the spring, suggesting little reprieve from the current conditions, according to the news release.

Weld County farmers and Front Range municipalities that rely on Colorado River transbasin diversions will be in better shape, as the Colorado River Headwaters and the South Platte River basins show forecasts for precipitation 80-100 percent of normal.

“These spring storms are so critical for our water supply. They’re the best storms we can have on the plains.

— Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

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Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said municipalities served by the Colorado Big Thompson transbasin diversion should be in good shape. Werner said much oft that credit goes to the large amounts of water in storage. Norther Water, for example, is at 25 percent above normal.

That's true for much of the state, according to data in the news release.

All but the Rio Grande Basin show higher than normal reservoir storage reserves, with the South Platte at 108 percent of normal.

"Above normal reservoir storage may provide some help in offsetting the low snowpack, but reservoir outflow is highly dependent on the watershed and specific location therein," according to the release.

Even if the mountain snowpack doesn't grow, farmers could see relief from wet spring snows, like the Friday storm along the front range, Werner said.

"These spring storms are so critical for our water supply," Werner said. "They're the best storms we can have on the plains."

More online

To review the data, or look at specific streamflow numbers, click here.