Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Snowpack is above average, but eastern Colorado experiencing drought conditions

You'd have to be no paying attention at all to not have noticed that California has experienced an amazing turnaround in its drought conditions.

According to the national drought monitor, as recently as November 2015, the California drought map looked like this:

Now, after months of well-above-average precipitation, the California drought map looks like this:

Colorado's turnaround was not so abrupt, and went from severe drought in 2013, then to virtually no drought at all in 2016. Here's 2013:

And here's May 2016:

Over the past several months, however, the Front Range has begun to see dry conditions again. Here's the current week:

This will lead to concerns over wildfire conditions, although fortunately, precipitation in the mountains has been high enough that water supply-concerns do not appear to be substantial at this time. If we look at recent data on snowpack, we find that while Colorado started out very slowly this season, it is now well above where we've seen it in recent years.  The black line is 2017 and the red line is the average:

And, even the second-most pessimistic forecast shows total snowpack coming at at slightly above the median measure for the year:

The water supply is increasingly important in terms of residential use, although agriculture uses over 90 percent of the state's water while producing a mere one percent of the state's production and less than two percent of the state's jobs.