Saturday, June 06, 2015

Water Reports, 2015

I have used the SNOTEL facility extensively to keep track of available water in Utah.

As you can see from the Mammoth-Cottonwood measurement site in Sanpete County, the precipitation accumulation at that location is slightly less than last year.

At another monitoring station in the Uinta, the Lakefork Site, we can see that accumulated precipitation has been near normal.

The meltdown date for accumulated snow came just a few days earlier than average, though snow accumulation was quite a bit less than average.  This is upsetting to water management people, because they are accustomed to gauging the potential water year by the annual winter snow accumulation.  But in fact, sometimes it doesn't really work that way.  There are exceptional water years.

Examining the history of accumulated precipitation at the Mammoth-Cottonwood Site is also revealing.  It shows the natural fluctuation of precipitation through time.  Judging from the graph, it looks like the variation for this year is pretty normal.

What should probably matter more to water management people at this point is the status of reservoir storage throughout the west.

For comparison, the same report from 2014.

The statewide report of Reservoir Storage for Utah also shows near average water storage.
 Inflow to Lake Powell is in large part a reflection of available water throughout the Colorado River water use area.  The chart shows that inflow usually peaks sometime in early June and continues to exceed outflow until September or October.  The inflow for 2015 looks promising.

Though eastern Utah and Colorado have received far above average springtime accumulation of water, most reporting authorities are claiming that it is much too soon, and far too optimistic, to see any end to the drought situation.

I don't know how to respond to this.  Except it makes me suspect that water management people tend to be pessimistic and rather uncharitable.

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