Colorado Snowfall Drought Lowering Local Water Supply
EL PASO - For many ski resorts, it has been a a rough season. Some parts of Colorado's Rocky Mountains have not had this little snow in 30 years. But the lack of snow is not just disrupting the ski season, snow in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico melts into the Rio Grande. Communities from New Mexico, Texas and Mexico depend on the river for irrigating crops and other uses.
Estimates of the size of the snow pack in the areas that flow into Rio Grande by the Bureau of Reclamation are for 86% of average snowmelt to flow into the Elephant Butte reservoir. But the actual amount that ends up in the reservoir could be much lower. Last year, the Bureau estimated 91% of normal water into the reservoir, but the percentage of normal runoff from the snowmelt ended up being only around 14%. Weather patterns last year produced many days of high winds that dried large amounts snow before it could flow into Elephant Butte. This year, long range forecasts for the spring season look very similar to last year, with warm and dry weather.