Awaiting our May miracle in the Colorado River Basin

February precip anomalies, courtesy PRISM

February precip anomalies, courtesy PRISM

It was 72F (22C) in Albuquerque yesterday, a record, and our decent snowpack is already starting to melt out. It’s early for that. And February (see PRISM map at right) has been dry, which hasn’t helped.

In the Upper Colorado River Basin, snowpack measured across all the river’s main tributary systems above Lake Powell (the Upper Colorado itself and the Green) is just 92 percent of average, according to the CBRFC. The mid-February forecast for total runoff this year into Powell is just 90 percent.

And yet, if you’ll permit me to mix anecdote with my data….

We had a visit yesterday evening from our friend Nancy, who used to live around the corner and recently moved to Pagosa Springs in southern Colorado. She’s learning to live with four feet of snow, and the neighbors tell her it’s the most they’ve seen in a while. The latest forecast on the Rio Blanco, which is the nearest measurement point to Nancy’s new house, is 10 percent above average. Importantly for us, that’s one of the key tributaries that supplies San Juan-Chama Project water to Albuquerque.

And the new seasonal forecast from the Climate Prediction Center for March-April-May, out this morning, is promising:

March-May seasonal outlook

March-May seasonal outlook


One Comment

  1. hi John,

    looks like some of the rains of the past day in CA are
    getting over into the Rockies so perhaps that will give
    the snow pack a boost. 🙂

    i’ve also been watching Lake Powell inflows and they
    seem to be running at about 90% of average. not too
    horrible and we have a long ways to go. another Miracle
    May would be great all around though…

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