Snowpack higher than normal in Colorado

Good news, local rafters, irrigators and all water lovers. Runoff this spring in the Colorado River and the Gunnison River is expected to be high as snowpack levels statewide remain above average this year. That’s a change over last year when the average state levels of snowpack fell below normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. As of March 1, snowpack levels statewide were 115 percent above average, the agency reported.

“Currently, we are well ahead of last year,” said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the conservation service.

In the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack levels were 128 percent of average, and Gunnison River Basin levels were 122 percent of average, as of March 1.

Some basins in southern Colorado, however, are showing a decrease in snowpack compared to this time last year.

“About the only basins likely to see below-average runoff this year are the Rio Grande, the southern tributaries of the Arkansas River and the southwestern basins,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

However, those basins have an advantage with slightly above-average reservoir storage, which is expected to help bolster water supplies, Green said.

Runoff levels at Cameo are increasing over last month. In February, the levels were 120 percent of normal, and they were reported at 125 percent of normal on March 1.

“That’s in line with having a fairly wet month,” Gillespie said. “I think you’ll notice it, depending on your level of interest or activity. If you’re a rafter, you’re going to notice a difference between this year and last.”


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