The drought-stricken West breathed a sigh of relief over the holidays as much-needed snow fell across the region. Snowpack levels are now hovering above average from the Rockies to the Sierra Nevadas, according to the National Weather and Climate Center.
“Right now things are looking promising,” said Cody Moser, senior hydrologist for the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.
He says the recent snow is a huge help for a region suffering from a severe and prolonged drought.
“The last three weeks of December were very good in terms of bringing above-average precipitation and snow,” he said.
More snow and rain is expected in the coming weeks. If snowpack levels remain high into the spring, it’ll be great news for the parched Colorado River system and its two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which are currently at historically low levels.
In 2020 the region saw an above average snowpack but a dry spring and scorching hot summer quickly eroded its benefits to the Colorado River Basin.
The most recent U.S Drought Monitor map illustrates the extent of the West's moisture deficit:
Substantial December precipitation prompted a one-category improvement to California, along with parts of Nevada and Utah. No precipitation has been observed at Clayton, #NM for 76 days which is the fifth-longest streak on record. #DroughtMonitor #CAwx #CAdrought #NVwx #UTwx pic.twitter.com/SC1T2pytsW
— NOAA NCEI (@NOAANCEI) December 30, 2021
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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