We are always excited to see moisture in the forecast, but unfortunately it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve experienced two years in a row of above average temperatures and low snowpack. Because of this, our reservoirs haven’t been full since July 2011.
We would need about six feet of new snow in our mountain watersheds over the next 2-3 weeks to have a normal snowpack. The forecasted snowfall will certainly help our situation, but we don’t expect enough snow to get us out of the drought because of our low reservoir levels. In fact, we are so far behind that even with a normal snowpack, our reservoirs would still not completely fill this year.
It isn’t all bad news though. The upcoming forecast is great for local soil moisture and serves as a reminder that you don’t need to use your irrigation systems just yet.
You can see in the snowpack charts below that the snowpack levels in the South Platte watershed are hovering just above last year’s number at 57 percent of average. The Colorado River watershed is doing better than last year, but it is still at 70 percent of average. These are the two watersheds that Denver Water relies on for mountain snowmelt to feed our reservoirs. You can see from the supply reservoir graph below, our reservoirs are 14 percent lower than they should be for this time of year – and we don’t expect them to fill.