Above-average snow levels are uplifting the moods of water users in the Southwest.
“Every high-altitude region of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming is above average for this time of year,” reports Fronteras. “Right now, it’s still piling up, past the usual amount that’s on the ground when it starts to melt off in the Spring. Normally, that total isn’t reached until early April.”
Reviewing the National Drought Information System, The Hill reports that “Total ‘snow water equivalent’ — the amount of water stored in snowpack — at a subset of monitoring stations in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona has reached the highest or second highest levels to date.” In fact, the long-term snow courses in California’s central and southern Sierra Nevada have achieved record highs not seen in 60 to 90 years.
Lake Powell may have reached its lowest level for the year, with expected snow melt from the Upper Basin states to begin filling the reservoir this spring.
Experts warn, however, that while this winter is likely to help depleted reservoirs, just one west season will not be enough to turn around a decades-long megadrought. The Southwest would need five or six consecutive wet winters to chip away at the supply-demand imbalance that is straining the region’s water supply.