The Colorado River Basin looks to be locking in another dry year

April NOAA forecast predicts the water headed for Lake Powell will be around two-thirds of average

Chris Outcalt and Margaret Fleming
The Colorado Sun
Boaters make their way down the Colorado River Sunday, April 3, near State Bridge. River levels will continue to rise as snow melts.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The Colorado River Basin looks to be headed for a third straight dry year, according to the April report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

Although the weather in March was more active than it was in January and February, it continued a trend of either below or well-below normal precipitation across much of the Colorado River Basin, according to Brenda Alcorn, a hydrologist at the NOAA forecast center.

“Thank goodness we had that good December,” Alcorn said Thursday during an online briefing reviewing the agency’s latest monthly water-supply report.

The April NOAA forecast predicts flows to Lake Powell from April through July to be about 64% of average, based on 30 years of data from 1991 to 2020. Back in January, that prediction called for 98% of average flows to Lake Powell during the same period. Inflows at Powell have been above average in only four of the past 22 years.

There are, however, still a wide range of possible outcomes for how much water will run into Powell this year, Alcorn said. “April and May are important precipitation months, so we’re hoping for better precipitation than we’ve seen recently,” she said during the briefing. “And June and July, too. We still have weather in June and July that can affect us.”

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