Snowpack

The Arkansas River Basin has the best water supply outlook in the state with a streamflow volume forecast of 86 percent of average following recent storms that brought heavy snow accumulations to the eastern slope.

The Arkansas River Basin and the South Platte River basin had the largest gains in precipitation and snowpack in the state, ending March with above-median snowpack.

The Arkansas River Basin measured 126 percent of average precipitation for the month of March and is now 94 percent of average water year precipitation.

As of April 1, the snowpack for the Arkansas River Basin was at 110 percent of average, the highest in the state and an increase from the previous month’s 90 percent.

National Resources Conservation Service hydrologist Joel Atwood said in a press release, “Generally storms in March improved snowpack across the state with the greatest gains in eastern river basins. Despite these storms, warmer temperatures in the mountains have already begun melting the snowpack.”

Despite those measurements, drought conditions continue to persist statewide due to soil moisture deficits from last summer and below average water year-to-date precipitation.

Due to the dry conditions, statewide reservoir storage levels remain below average in contrast from March of 2020.

The Arkansas River basin is currently at only 69 percent of average reservoir storage, compared to 92 percent at this time last year.

Due to the recent precipitation from March storms, Chaffee County is currently listed as being a moderate drought zone by the National Drought Mitigation Center at University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

That is an improvement from Jan. 1, when the western part of the county was in the extreme drought zone and the eastern half was considered in a severe drought.

While the March precipitation in the area provided a respite, the long range forecast for the entire state is for drought conditions to persist through the beginning of summer.

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