Grand County summer streamflows predicted at 82 percent of average
Colorado’s snowpack outlook is still looking bleak.
Recent reports from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that tracks snowpack data for the federal government, shows statewide snowpack figures at just 57 percent of normal as of the start of May. Those figures come on the heels of a relatively wet April that saw modest snowfall across the northern portions of the state.
The Colorado River basin is doing better than most areas of Colorado with an average basin-wide snowpack figure of 76 percent. In southern Colorado, the snowpack outlook is dire with the Rio Grande basin showing a snowpack figure of just 12 percent of historic averages as of May 1.
The Colorado River basin’s snowpack figures for this year puts the basin slightly behind figures for the same month in 2017 when basin-wide snowpack averages after May 1 were tallied at 82 percent of historic averages. During the month of April, the Colorado River basin saw significant precipitation, including several snowstorms that deposited multiple inches in the High Country. The area experienced the snowiest April of any basin in the state with snowfall accumulations at 107 of historic averages for the month.
One bright spot in the overall report is reservoir storage figures. Across Colorado, reservoir storage stands at 111 percent of historic averages and in the Colorado River basin, reservoirs are marked at 105 percent of average. Most of the reservoirs in Grand County are sitting somewhat below their May 1 storage figures for last year. As of May 1, Williams Fork Reservoir held a little over 4.6 KAF, thousand acre-feet, which is less water than last year.
Likewise, Wolford Mountain Reservoir was holding 4.5 KAF less water in 2018 than in 2017. Both Willow Creek Reservoir and Shadow Mountain Reservoir held slightly less water in 2018. Lake Granby, however, is showing storage figures well above May 2017 and as of May 1, held roughly 28.1 KAF of additional water.
Those figures are likely to be impacted by streamflows. The NRCS decreased its forecasted streamflow predictions for the state from April to May.
“The precipitation and snowpack conditions during April did little to improve the runoff outlook,” state federal officials.
The southwestern parts of the state are expected to see abysmal streamflows this year, with some streamflows predicted as low as three percent of historic averages. The north central Rockies are expected to fare better but are still predicted below 90 percent with the exception streams flowing into Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, predicted at 95 percent of normal.
Streamflow forecasts for the upper Colorado River, including Grand County, are predicted at 82 percent of historic averages.
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In response to a heightened fire risk, Grand County commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday a move into a Stage 1 fire ban that goes into effect at noon Wednesday.