Colorado water roller coaster leads to drought, fire risk and weaker-than-average streamflow
One of Colorado’s driest Aprils on record has led to diminished mountain streamflow and snow at 76% of the norm for this time of year as warmer temperatures accelerate melting.
The paltry snowpack and lack of rain over the past month resulted in lagging flows in all the major river basins, more than a month before summer, the latest federal surveys show.
River basins in southern Colorado received less than half of average precipitation, with the Rio Grande River Basin registering 16% of the norm between 1981 and 2010, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service data.
Most survey sites in the San Juan Mountains and Sangre de Cristo Mountains recorded the lowest or second-lowest April precipitation on record, the data show.
Northern Colorado river basins received more water but measured well below the norm at 77% to 84%.
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