Runoff Timing

In light of yesterday’s mediapalooza about the new federal climate report (see my contributions here and here), there’s an interesting on-the-ground reality check today in the Denver Post:

Colorado’s peak flow from snowmelt hit a few weeks earlier than normal, causing problems for some recreational users of the state’s rivers and complicating downstream irrigation strategies.

A dozen late-winter windstorms coated high mountain snow with dust, causing the snow to melt earlier than usual. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Erin Curtis said the peak occurred in late May.

BLM is especially worried about flows on the Colorado River in the western part of the state, where the so-called flat water is running especially cold and fast, at a flow now about five times what it will be later this summer….
Water storage may also be an issue, said Andy Barrett of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder.


  1. This was featured in a NASA Earth Observatory article, complete with photos and with historical background.

    They do not conclude that it is either bad or good, just that it is an important factor that is independent of global warming. But it seems that it could be a source of positive feedback, with drought causing more dust-storms, and dust-storms causing more drought. It seems as though careful land management practices (regarding overgrazing, off-road vehicle use, and the like) could mitigate this, to some extent.

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