Water Supply Update

It looks yesterday’s premise is holding – despite the extraordinary blanket of white in my backyard, the snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin, source of a big chunk of New Mexico’s water supply, didn’t pick up a whole lot from the Great Storm of ’06.

Tom Pagano, who does the runoff forecasts for us out of the NRCS Portland, Ore., office, has built a handy new tool that provides daily runoff forecast updates. The link gets you to an FTP directory of Excel spreadsheets. Open the one named SummaryOutput.xls to see an overview of the whole data set, then look at the individual spreadsheets for each of the major stream gauges to look at the trends (the naming convention is provided in SummaryOutput.xls). The charts directory has graphics for each gauging station. It’s early in the season yet, but the daily updates can give you a feel for how each storm effects the long term outlook without having to wait for the once-a-month official forecasts. It’s pretty geeky, and Tom’s slapped a caveat at the top of each spreadsheet: “Disclaimer: This is a completely automated unofficial experimental product based on SNOTEL data.” But with that in mind, it’s an incredibly useful tool.
The bottom line: The Rio Grande at Otowi, the central measuring point in New Mexico, only picked up a tiny bit for the storm, while the Pecos and Jemez picked up a lot.


  1. Man, I used to go out to one of those wx shelters years ago as a young pup. I still have the handle of an ML-24 sling psychrometer I broke on the door of one of those instrument shelters – it’s an old keychain now.

    Reeeally geeky: an old barograph.

    Anyway, the second storm sure did a lot more good for the water tables [provided no quick warm-up] in the east than in the mountains, altho the cattle don’t think so. Some rumblings up here of a return to the wet cycle, but I’m not convinced yet, especially when I see all the standing dead out in the Front Range…



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