Area snowpack levels remain below average

If precipitation does not increase, Coloradans may be facing another summer of near-drought conditions

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By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
According to recent surveys, Colorado residents can expect below average spring and summer water supplies due to below average accumulation of snow pack this year.
"Although it remains early in the season and conditions can quickly improve, the historical record shows that most years that begin dry will continue drier than normal throughout the winter season," said Allen Green, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Vance Fulton, a technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Steamboat Springs, agreed that there was a chance the snowpack will get up to where it needs to be, but it is not likely.
"We usually don't catch up, but there's an exception to every rule," he said. "I've seen years where it's been this low and we have been able to catch up.
"We need to get a couple of big dumps of snow. A couple inches of snow here and there doesn't amount to much."
All of the state's river basins have reported below average accumulation this winter.
Currently, most river basins across the state are at close to 60 percent of the average annual accumulation.
The Yampa and White River basins are slightly higher than the state average, at nearly 70 percent of the annual accumulation, but some say that's still not enough.
"More is always better," Fulton said. "We like to see it at 100 percent of the 30-year average."
Accumulation of winter snowpack is closely monitored, because nearly 80 percent of the state's surface water supplies originate from the melting snow each spring and summer.
"The supply of water for irrigation will likely be short this year, as well as water for municipal use," Fulton said.
Compounding the situation is the below average reservoir storage across the state.
These levels are down to 85 percent due to several consecutive dry winters in which the reservoir levels have continued to decrease each year.
The National Weather Service forecasts spring and summer water levels well below the average level, and said only a sustained period of wet, snowy weather can improve the outlook of summer water supplies.

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