From The Dolores Star:
Many are saying that this year is close to what happened in 2002, just 10 years ago. The amount of water that is received in this area is wholly dependent on the weather, said Mancos Water Conservancy District superintendent Gay Kennedy. Kennedy said this year’s dry conditions are due to the mild winter last year and little amount of moisture this last spring. This has caused the rivers, lakes and reservoirs in the area to be at a low level, the likes of which have not been seen for a while. Jackson Gulch reservoir hasn’t been this low since 1996 said Kennedy.
From The Fairplay Flume (Mike Potter):
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a warmer- and drier-than-average winter for 2012-2013 after the El Niño weather pattern didn’t develop as predicted. When El Niño is present, warm water in the Pacific Ocean causes a shift in tropical weather patterns, which in turn affects the jet stream over the United States. El Niño occurs when an area of warm water develops in the Pacific Ocean roughly every five years west of northern South America. Because it didn’t develop like it was expected to, NOAA’s National Weather Service modified its original weather judgment…
Bernie Meier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Boulder, said the recent weather activity has many people only guessing on what the winter will bring in precipitation. He said the national models show the chance that temperatures are going to be higher than normal, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. He said some recent models show an average winter in Colorado. “It’s not trending really dry or really wet,” he said. “My best guess would be middle of the road.”
From the Summit Daily News (Paige Blankenbuehler) via The Denver Post:
Local ski areas are beginning to see the implications of a drought year as Arapahoe Basin focuses on conservation in snowmaking efforts…The ski area diverts small amounts of water from the reservoir around the clock for snowmaking operations. Snowmaking crews blow snow 10 hours per day. Snowmaking operations are permitted by water rights, but the ski area is required to maintain a minimum bypass flow to ensure stream health.