Colorado River Basin snowpack close to average, future uncertain

Colorado River Basin weather
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  • Snowpack at 103% of historical average: Significantly lower than last year’s record levels.
  • Lake Mead water levels rose in 2023: Due to heavy snowpack, but long-term trends still worrisome.
  • La Niña weather pattern likely: May mean drier conditions for the Southwest.

March 15, 2024 — The Colorado River Basin, a vital water source for the American Southwest, currently has near-average snowpackOpens in a new tab.. However, this is considerably lower than the record levels observed last year despite recent storms. The state of the snowpack is crucial as it directly feeds the Colorado River system and reservoirs like Lake Mead.

In 2023, Lake Mead experienced a water level increase due to generous winter storms. This brought relief after years of drought and record lows. Unfortunately, the lower snowpack this year puts the chances of further improvement in doubt. The Bureau of Reclamation warns that Lake Mead could return to critically low levels.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center points to a likely La Niña weather pattern in late 2024. La Niña tends to bring drier conditions to the SouthwestOpens in a new tab., suggesting further challenges for the Colorado River system. Water resource managers and residents will be closely watching how the weather, snowpack, and ultimately, Lake Mead’s water levels, unfold in the coming year.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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