Colorado snowpack promises big runoff |

Colorado snowpack promises big runoff

DENVER, Colorado ” Deep snow across most of the Colorado high country promises above-average spring runoff in many parts of the state, federal officials said Monday.

The Rio Grande watershed in southern Colorado has the best snow in 29 years with mountain snowpack nearly double the 30-year average, the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service said.

“With the current snowpack we have in some of these basins, we are already guaranteed an above-average runoff,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS.

“Add to that the additional snowpack we accumulate between now and the end of the winter, and that just adds to what we can expect for the spring runoff,” he said.

The upbeat prediction was a marked change from November, when some forecasters said their computer models pointed to a dry winter. A series of storms bringing heavy snow in December and January reversed that.

Mountain snowpack is closely watched by farmers, ranchers and utility officials because the spring runoff supplies much of the state’s water.

Even before the runoff begins, water stored at reservoirs statewide is 99 percent of average and is 105 percent of last year’s volumes.

Statewide, the snowpack was 134 percent of average on Monday, ranging from a low of 100 percent of the 30-year average in the South Platte Basin to a high of 178 percent in the Rio Grande Basin.

The North Platte Basin was at 103 percent, the Yampa and White River 110 percent, Colorado River 127 percent, Gunnison 152 percent, Arkansas 165 percent and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan 167 percent.

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