Snowmelt runoff for North Platte basin currently projected below average

Mountain snow measurements by NRCS staff. (Courtesy: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Montana)
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MILLS, Wyo. (by Release / KNEP) - Bureau of Reclamation officials say snowmelt runoff expected this year for the North Platte River Basin is trending below average, but current reservoir levels will help meet irrigation demand for 2018.

Based on current snowpack levels, the February forecast indicate the spring snowmelt runoff above Glendo Dam from April through July is expected to be 735,000 acre-feet, which is 81 percent of the 30-year average.

According to the Feb. 12, 2018 snow report from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, snow water equivalents in the four basins that feed the North Platte River are running well below averages at the same time last year, and in some cases even below the 2016 water year.

Upper North Platte______85________133_______95
Lower North Platte_____76________119_______113
Source: USDA NRCS 2/12/18 Snow Report.
Figures are a percentage of median from 1981-2010

Despite the lower than average snowpack levels, Reclamation officials say carry-over from last year’s snow and rainfall in the Wyoming mountains should help bolster water supplies. Wyoming Area Office Resources Management Chief Mahonri Williams notes that North Platte Reservoirs currently hold 2,085,600 acre-feet of water, which is 135 percent of the 30-year average. Williams says more snow in the mountains would be helpful, but the current runoff forecast plus current water storage means irrigation districts receiving water from the North Platte project should be in good shape during the upcoming crop season.

The Bureau of Reclamation will issue updated snowmelt runoff forecasts again in March, April and May.