April 2, 2015--Colorado mountain snowpack low at 69 percent, raising water concerns (Denver Post)

Colorado's mountain snowpack is running low — around 69 percent of average — raising concerns about low streamflow during summer and potential strain on water supplies. A relatively hot, dry March took a toll, melting away snowpack from 87 percent at the end of February. The latest data under review by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service survey team on Thursday showed statewide snowpack at 69 percent of average, with snowpack in southwestern Colorado basins dropping to 55 and 58 percent of average. In the closely watched Colorado River Basin, snowpack was measured at 76 percent, the early data shows. The South Platte River Basin, which supplies metro Denver and northeastern Colorado, had snowpack at 88 percent of average. The Arkansas River Basin was at 83 percent of average. Western water providers and farmers widely watch mountain snowpack in spring because it serves as a natural reservoir of stored water. The West relies on snowpack during dry summer months to meet water needs. Mountain snowpack decreased rapidly "because we had a very dry month. March is typically a snowy month in Colorado. Also, it was warm," federal hydrologist Lexi Landers said. "It's starting to be a little concerning," Landers said, noting that snowpack usually reaches maximum levels in April and May. "There's not much time left to gain more snowpack. At 69 percent, we're not seeing as much volume as we typically have," she said. "If we don't get a big dump, it means we likely are not going to see as much streamflow this summer." Water storage in reservoirs statewide measured at 90 percent of last year's level on March 1. Federal hydrologists had yet to compile the latest water levels in reservoirs. To view the full article visit Denver Post.