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Snowpack suffering in Southwest Colorado

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

The snowpack as of May 1 in the watersheds drained by the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel rivers leaves the southwest corner of Colorado hurting.

At 68 percent of its 30-year median, the amount of snow in the high country foretells a sparse runoff.

Only the Rio Grande basin is worse off at 50 percent.

On the flip side, the Colorado, South Platte, North Platte and Yampa/White basins are wallowing in snow. The Yampa/White and Colorado basins have snowpacks that stand at 121 and 122 percent, respectively. The South Platte has 133 percent and the North Platte, 135 percent.

All basins received below-average snow in April, Brian Domonkos, snow surveyor supervisor at the Natural Resources Conservation Service said in the report.

The statewide snowpack was 107 percent of the 30-year median, but 128 percent of the snowpack at the same point in 2013, Domonkos said.

“In general, moisture-laden storms have favored the northern-tier basins throughout 2014,” Domonkos said. “Last month, the Gunnison, Upper Rio Grande and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins were impacted by warmer temperatures and lack of snowfall.”

Overall, however, the state is not doing too badly in regards to reservoir storage, Domonkos said.

Slightly more than 50 percent of state reservoirs stand at 100 percent of average or better and nearly three-quarters of them at 80 percent of average or better, Domonkos said.

Reservoirs catching runoff from the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel basins were at 85 percent of average on May 1. Last year on the same date, the reservoirs stood at 64 percent of average.

Statewide, reservoirs hold 93 percent of their average, up from 71 percent on the same 2013 date. Three basins, the Yampa/White, Gunnison and South Platte, hold more than 100 percent of their average – 106, 107 and 110 percent respectively.

River flows in general will be good to excellent, the report says. More than one-half of stream-flow forecast points should have more than 100 percent of their average and nearly two-thirds should have flows of more than 80 percent of average.

But again, Southwest Colorado is the exception, the report says.

“Runoff volumes for May through July are expected to range from average to below average,” the report says.

daler@durangoherald.com

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