Colorado reservoir storage lower than last year
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — June is living up to its history as one of the driest months in the Colorado high country, with very little precipitation in the state’s key river basins.
According to the June drought update from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Yampa and White River basins in the northwestern part of the state, as well as the South Platte and Gunnison River basins have received zero percent of their average June precipitation.
As of the June 18, the US Drought Monitor is showing that 100 percent of Colorado continues to experience some level of drought classification.
Farther south, the Rio Grande Basin and the rivers in the southwestern corner of the state have only seen about 14 to 14 percent of their average June precipitation to-date. All the basins, with the exception of the South Platte, were also below average in May.
Scattered storms brought some moisture relief to the southeastern plains which have been faced with exceptional drought conditions for two years. But soils are so dry in this region that some fields have become hydrophobic.
Rolling dust storms have been reported on multiple occasions and many more storms will be needed to alleviate dry conditions. Areas of the state that saw beneficial springtime moisture have now begun to dry out; the southwest has seen recent changes in its drought classification from “severe” to “extreme.” Fires have broken out statewide and many communities have implemented fire bans.
The CWCB reported that early June reservoir storage across the state average 78 percent of average, with above-average (111 percent) in the Yampa/White River Basin. The lowest storage level is in the Rio Grande Basin, at 40 percent of average, with the rest of Colorado’s basins ranging between 50 percent to 92 percent of average. Last year at this time, after a very dry winter, reservoir storage was at 98 percent of average.
Streamflow forecasts indicate below average streamflow across much of the state, although improvements have been made in the forecasts since May. The Colorado and South Platte have the highest streamflow forecasts ranging from 62-111 percent of normal. The lowest forecasts in the state are in the Upper Rio Grande, with flows ranging 14 to 52 percent of normal. The Southwestern, Arkansas and Gunnison also have low forecasts ranging from 26-71 percent of normal.