Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:
Colorado’s snowpack remains at above normal levels heading into February. A stream of moisture brought heavy snow to much of the state over the last few days of January, favorably amplifying the snowpack in all major river basins. Preceding this storm, many SNOTEL stations in the southwest basins and along the Continental Divide had received less than normal snowpack accumulations. However, the latest storm produced between 1 and 4 inches of SWE for the majority of Colorado’s SNOTEL sites. Although there are a few individual mountain locations that maintain a snowpack that is below the median, all of Colorado’s major river basins are at above normal levels. The combined San Juan, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River basin holds the greatest snowpack, with respect to normal, at 122 percent of median, in part due to the bountiful snowpack in the San Miguel River basin, which is the highest in the state at 150 percent of median. This is in stark contrast to last year at this time when the combined southwest basins’ snowpack only amounted to 66 percent of the median. The combined Yampa, White, and North Platte basin ranks lowest among the major river basins, but is still above normal with a snowpack at 103 percent of median. Although there is a substantial portion of the winter still ahead, most of Colorado’s basins are currently on track to have a healthy snow accumulation season.
Thanks to a storm that impacted Colorado over the last few days of January, statewide mountain precipitation for the water year remains above normal. As of February 1st, water year-to-date precipitation (WYTD) for Colorado is at 109 percent of average. January precipitation was divided among the major river basins in Colorado; basins east of the Continental Divide generally received less than average precipitation while basins west of the divide received near or above average accumulations. The Rio Grande River basin had the lowest January precipitation relative to average at 73 percent. The Arkansas and South Platte basins were also below average at 78 and 87 percent respectively. However, this lack of precipitation was not enough to diminish the benefits from the wet December that these basins experienced, and all still have above average WYTD precipitation. The combined Yampa, White, North Platte River basin experienced the greatest January precipitation with respect to normal and received 114 percent of its average monthly levels. This boosted the basin’s WYTD precipitation to 99 percent of average. The Gunnison and Colorado River basins also saw above average January precipitation each at 107 percent and the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, San Juan River basin was slightly below normal at 94 percent of average. Each of these river basins also have WYTD precipitation that is well above average, continuing the positive precipitation trends for Colorado.
February 1st seasonal streamflow forecasts for most major basins in Colorado are predicting near to above normal volumes. Forecasts for rivers flowing from the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado are consistently the highest forecasts in the state. Vallecito Reservoir inflow has the smallest forecast in the region at 108 percent of normal and Gurley Reservoir inflow has the highest, at 122 percent. The Upper Rio Grande, also in southwest Colorado, follows close behind and has no points forecast to have below normal streamflow volumes with the highest being Saguache Creek near Saguache at 116 percent. The rest of the major basins in the state have forecasts surrounding, but generally near, normal values with a slightly decreasing trend from south to north throughout the state. The lowest percent of normal streamflow forecasts are currently on the Little Snake River, a major tributary to the Yampa that flows in northwest Colorado, but has much of its snow accumulating headwaters in Wyoming. Forecasts on the Little Snake range from 80 to 87 percent of normal. This general south to north decreasing trend also follows the snowpack accumulation trend, which is commonly observed during strong El Nino cycles, such as the one which has been experienced so far this winter.