Colorado mountain snowpack shrunk to record-low levels this week, raising concerns about water supply, and some federal authorities calculated even big late snow — if it falls — may not make up for the lag.
Survey crews have measured snow depths in southwestern Colorado at 22 percent of normal, the upper Colorado River Basin at 65 percent of normal and the Arkansas River Basin at 49 percent of normal. National Weather Service meteorologists forecast limited snow through mid-January, though they also see a possibility that ocean-driven atmospheric patterns will shift by March and bring snow.
Water suppliers have intensified their monitoring, weighing how to leave as much H2O as possible stored in reservoirs without risking dam safety if high flows do come.
Colorado natural resources officials plan to review “emerging drought conditions” next week. While most of Colorado currently is classified as abnormally dry, areas of the Western Slope are officially in drought.