Heavy Snow Puts A Dent In Colorado's Drought
April snow storms have certainly helped parched Colorado. The real question is, how big of a dent will it be?
Update 11:03 a.m. 04/17/13: Recent snowfall has boosted mountain snowpack in some areas to its highest level this winter. Both the Colorado and North Platte river basins are just below normal levels for this time of year, catching up dramatically since April 1.
Snowpack levels in many river basins have seen almost a ten percent increase since the start of April. That’s a huge boost, considering many basins in the state were thirty percent behind in March.
The latest snow storm has been unable to assuage pessimistic attitudes about what lies ahead for the state's ongoing drought.
“We need a March of 2003 snow storm, which was a one in one hundred year kind of event. But this week is certainly heading us in that direction," said Brian Werner, a spokesman for Northern Water - Colorado's largest water distribution system.
Werner said the state would need double or triple the amount of snow to reverse the drought.
Many farmers have already made planting decisions, with growers choosing to scale back the acres of water-heavy crops like corn and increase more drought-resistant plants like sorghum.
Cities along the Front Range take a longer view with water management, with most working off three-year plans. City water managers are much less likely to gamble on having a wet winter next year. Many of the watering restrictions in cities like Denver and Fort Collins, will remain in place until reservoirs fill back up.