Water Supply Outlook Report
April 1, 2012
"Statewide snowpack percentages declined dramatically after a brief boost on March 1, leaving the state with the lowest snowpack percentage reported since 2002 and the second lowest in the entire 45 year historical record. Forecasts for spring and summer streamflow volumes are well below average across the entire state. While many water users may have a feeling of déjà vu remembering conditions in 2002, reservoir storage provides a little optimism going into this runoff season. Most of the state's major river basins are reporting above average reservoir storage with the notable exceptions of the Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas basins. Judicious use of existing supplies will be critical in minimizing impacts and there is always the potential for unexpected late season snowfall and above average spring precipitation to help ease impacts."
"Not since the memorable drought year of 2002, when the state also had an April 1 snowpack that was 52 percent of average, has conditions been this poor. Exacerbating matters is the fact that by this date, nearly 100 percent of the seasonal snowpack has accumulated in an average year."
"Across southern Colorado, some lower elevation sites have already melted out and earlier season melt is even occurring at the higher elevation sites. At current melt rates; many sites will be completely melted out about a month earlier than normal."
"Statewide 2012 storage volumes are slightly above where they were this time last year. Only the Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins are reporting volumes less than those reported last year. The Arkansas basin average storage is currently at only 86 percent of average and 95 percent of last year’s amounts. Storage in the Upper Rio Grande basin continues to be the lowest in the state, at only 73 percent of average. Reservoirs in the state are currently at 60 percent of capacity."
"Colorado's water users can anticipate very low streamflow volumes this summer. Due to extremely poor snowpack conditions spring and summer streamflow volumes may approach the minimum volumes on record. Projected inflow into Dillon Reservoir is only 60 percent of average and forecasts elsewhere in the Colorado basin are slightly lower. Clear Creek at Golden is expected to flow at 66 percent of average this season. The forecast for the Cache la Poudre River is only 53 percent of average. The Gunnison River near Gunnison is only expected to see volumes at 45 percent of average. All of these forecasts assume normal precipitation amounts throughout the April to July forecast period. Should the current weather trend continue into spring and summer, these forecasts will continue to decline even further."