State, region below average on snowpack and water as of Jan. 1

The Natural Resources and Conservation Service has released the results of its latest snow survey and water supply analysis for Colorado.

The 2013 water year got off to a very slow start in the mountains of Colorado. As of Jan. 1, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 70 percent of average and 91 percent of last year’s readings, according to Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist, with the NRCS.

“Conditions could have been much worse if we had not received the moisture we did in December” Philipps said. The much-needed snowfall in December boosted the snowpack from just 36 percent of average recorded on Dec. 1. Philipps also added that the Jan. 1 snowpack is the fourth lowest in the last 32 years.

Mountain precipitation was 112 percent of average for December but due to exceptionally dry conditions in October and November statewide, total water year-to-date precipitation remains below average.

In October and November, Colorado received only 50 and 41 percent of average precipitation respectively. Statewide year-to-date precipitation was at 68 percent of average as of Jan. 1. Basins in southern Colorado have the greatest deficits. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins reported only 59 percent of average year to date precipitation on Jan. 1. The Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas basins recorded 62 and 61 percent of average for year to date precipitation respectively.

So far this winter season has been dominated by high pressure weather systems and a jet stream that has not cooperated. Snow surveys on Jan. 1 confirmed that snow accumulation is below average for this time of year across the state. Total accumulation ranges from 82 percent of average in the Yampa and White River basins, to 61 percent of average in the Arkansas basin. The South Platte River basin reported 67 percent of average and the Colorado River basin reported 68 percent of average

Due to last spring’s well below average snowpack and subsequent low streamflow volumes throughout most of the state, reservoir storage is currently well below average throughout Colorado. Statewide reservoir storage at the end of December was just 68 percent of average and 38 percent of capacity.

Figures for the region including Archuleta County show 70 percent of average snowpack, with 84 percent of last year’s snowpack to the date of the survey.

Reservoir storage in the region is set at 66 percent of average, with 62 percent of last year’s average at the time of the survey.

This story was posted on February 6, 2013.