Colorado snowpack off to ‘great start’

Colorado’s snowpack was slightly above average at the beginning of the month in what is the best start to a winter season since 2011, the Natural Resources Conservation Service says.

The state was at 103 percent of median as of Jan. 1.

“This is a great start to the 2014 water year. As we saw in 2012 and 2013, early seasons deficits are difficult to make up later in the season, so being right where we should be this time of year gives us a head start compared to the past couple of years,” Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist with the NRCS, said in a news release.

Snow accumulation was above normal from October through early December. Conditions became drier in the second half of December, especially in the south and southwest parts of the state. Still, conditions are similar between major river basins, ranging from 111 percent of median in the Yampa, White and North Platte basins to 99 percent in the Rio Grande and South Platte basins.

The Colorado is at 102 percent, and the Gunnison at 107 percent.

The NRCS said heavy precipitation this fall boosted reservoir storage, which is now at 87 percent of average statewide.

Storage is at 98 percent of average in the Colorado basin and 80 percent for the Gunnison basin.

At this point, forecasters are predicting spring and summer streamflows of between 90 and 100 percent of normal for the Colorado, South Platte, Yampa, White, and Arkansas River basins. Flows in the Rio Grande, Gunnison and San Juan basins are expected to be anywhere from 80 to 100 percent of average.



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