The first official forecast for the amount of water expected in the Colorado River and its Rocky Mountain tributaries this spring is in, and the outlook is grim.
“Well, it’s not looking really great at this point,” says Greg Smith, a senior hydrologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Layers of snow in the Colorado, Wyoming and Utah mountains feed the Colorado River basin. Some regions are reporting the driest start to a winter ever recorded. All of the river’s upper basin streams empty into Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border. The lake’s inflow -- all water entering the reservoir -- is anticipated to be 55 percent of average during spring runoff.