Extended Streamflow Guidance
Issued by NWS
FGUS65 KSTR 032039
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
COLORADO BASIN RIVER FORECAST CENTER
SALT LAKE CITY, UT
SPRING FLOOD POTENTIAL
FOR THE COLORADO RIVER BASIN WITHIN COLORADO
FEBRUARY 3, 2016
The 2016 spring runoff flood potential is considered slightly higher than
average in the Dolores and San Juan basins at this time. The current above
normal snowpack combined with a strong El Nino event suggests an elevated
potential over that of a normal year.
The 2016 spring runoff flood potential due to snowmelt is near normal at this
time for the Yampa/White, Upper Colorado mainstem, and Gunnison basins.
It should be emphasized that it is still early in the snow accumulation season
and conditions could change quite a bit before the runoff begins.
January basin averaged precipitation was generally near to above average across
western Colorado with values between 105 and 120 percent of average. However,
the precipitation pattern was variable with below average precipitation
occurring in the eastern portions of the San Juan, Gunnison, and Colorado River
headwaters while the western portions of those basins, as well as the Yampa
and Dolores River basins had above average precipitation. Seasonal
precipitation is near to above average and ranges from 100 percent of average
in the Yampa/White basin to 145 percent of average in the Dolores River basin.
February 1st basin averaged snow water equivalent is 135 percent of median in
the Dolores River Basin with some individual SNOTEL sites over 150 percent
of median. The rest of the basins in western Colorado have basin averaged
snow water equivalent between 100 and 115 percent of median as of February 1.
The current volume forecasts for the April through July runoff period range
between 85 and 110 percent of average in the Yampa/White, Gunnison, San Juan,
and Upper Colorado mainstem basins and between 115 and 125 percent of average
in the Dolores River Basin.
Although spring temperatures affect the pattern of snowmelt runoff and
consequently the magnitude of peak flows, peak flows also roughly correspond
to volumetric flows. It is also important to keep in mind that an extended
period of much above normal temperatures or heavy rainfall during the melt
period can cause or exacerbate flooding problems in any year.