Snowpack news: Most of the basins are below the worst year on record, statewide snowpack = 42% of average, Upper Colorado = #CODrought #COwx

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Click on the thumbnail graphics for yesterday’s statewide high/low graph along with the Upper Colorado and Rio Grande basins high/low graphs.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

Sunday’s snowstorm did little to boost the snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin, leaving it slightly behind levels when drought hammered the state in 2002. Craig Cotten, the state’s division engineer for the San Luis Valley, told the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable Tuesday that the basin’s snowpack currently sits at 31 percent of average…

He cautioned that there still was time for Mother Nature to catch up, citing three-month forecasts from the National Weather Service that said the region had an equal chance of average precipitation. That forecast, however, was coupled with a three-month prediction for above-average temperatures, which could result in an early runoff.

“That’s not going to help a whole lot,” Cotten said.

The poor start to the winter comes on the heels of a below-average winter last year. Cotten said flows this year on the valley’s two major rivers — the Conejos and the Rio Grande — are down to 53 percent of average and 63 percent, respectively.

Moreover, the unconfined aquifer, or shallower of the valley’s two major ground water bodies, lost 121,000 acre-feet this year, dropping it to its lowest levels since officials began tracking it in 1976. The unconfined aquifer is fed primarily from the irrigation ditches that draw water from the Rio Grande and carry it to farmers’ fields where it supplies crops and the remainder filters down.

Meanwhile, a series of potential winter storms is on the way, starting this weekend, according to the National Weather Service Grand Junction office:

A WINTRY WEEKEND POSSIBLE FOR EASTERN UTAH AND WESTERN COLORADO…

A SERIES OF MOIST PACIFIC STORMS WILL BE TRACKING ACROSS THE WESTERN UNITED STATES AS THE WEEK COMES TO AN END.

THE FIRST SYSTEM WILL DIVE SOUTH ALONG THE WEST COAST AND EVENTUALLY TURN NORTHEAST AS IT REACHES THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA. THIS WILL SEND MOISTURE ACROSS THE DESERT SOUTHWEST AND INTO SOUTHEAST UTAH AND SOUTHWEST COLORADO FRIDAY…WITH SNOW DEVELOPING OVER THE SOUTHERN MOUNTAINS BY MIDDAY. THIS SYSTEM WILL QUICKLY SHIFT EAST FRIDAY NIGHT AS A SECOND STORM DROPS SOUTH INTO THE GREAT BASIN.

AT THIS TIME…THE SECOND STORM IS EXPECTED TO TRACK EAST ACROSS THE SOUTHERN GREAT BASIN AND INTO WESTERN COLORADO BY SATURDAY AFTERNOON. THIS WILL BRING ANOTHER ROUND OF HEAVIER SNOWFALL TO THE MOUNTAINS…WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW ACROSS THE VALLEYS.

THE PATTERN REMAINS ENERGETIC AS THIS STORM QUICKLY DEPARTS SATURDAY NIGHT…FOLLOWED BY A THIRD SYSTEM…WHICH APPEARS TO BE THE STRONGEST IN THIS SERIES OF STORMS. THIS SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO BRING STRONGER WINDS AND HAS SUFFICIENT MOISTURE TO PRODUCE WIDESPREAD HEAVY SNOW…WITH THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL MOUNTAINS IN WESTERN COLORADO FAVORED AS IT TRACKS ACROSS NORTHERN UTAH AND DROPS SOUTHEAST INTO SOUTHWEST COLORADO SUNDAY NIGHT.

THERE REMAINS SOME UNCERTAINTY AS TO THE EXACT TRACK OF EACH OF THESE INDIVIDUAL STORMS AND MINOR SHIFTS COULD RESULT IN MORE OR LESS SNOWFALL IN ANY ONE PARTICULAR AREA. HOWEVER…SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS IN EXCESS OF A FOOT WILL BE POSSIBLE IN SOME MOUNTAIN AREAS BETWEEN FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND MONDAY MORNING.

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