Snowpack levels in Arizona’s river basins are well above normal, ranging from 222 percent to 266 percent of average, according to water resource experts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and cooperating partners.
As a result of this and other climatic factors, the forecast calls for near record stream flow levels for all of Arizona’s major rivers for the spring runoff period.
Statewide, the Feb. 1 snowpack measured at 232 percent of the 30-year average.
The Salt River Basin and Verde River Basin snow packs were measured at 233 and 266 percent of average, respectively.
“A series of major storms that moved through the state during the third week of January produced the heavy snowpack we now see throughout the mountains of northern and eastern Arizona.” said NRCS Water Resources Specialist Dino DeSimone.
On the Salt River near Roosevelt, the runoff forecast calls for 239 percent of median streamflow levels (850,000 acre-feet) for the February-May forecast period. On the Verde River above Horseshoe Dam, the long-term runoff prediction calls for 275 percent of median streamflow levels (550,000 acre-feet).
On the Little Colorado River above Woodruff, streamflow is forecast at 429 percent of the 30-year median.
As of Feb. 1, the combined Salt River Project (SRP) reservoir system is at 93 percent of capacity with 2,162,000 acre-feet in storage. San Carlos Lake stands at only 7 percent of capacity with 64,000 acre-feet in storage.
“The good news is that with the snowpack in the watershed above San Carlos Lake currently at 222 percent of average, the forecast favors a well-above-normal spring runoff for the Gila River that feeds the reservoir,” according to DeSimone.
The NRCS and its cooperative snow surveyors make snow measurements throughout the winter to forecast and track the state’s surface water supplies for the coming year. As a result of these snow measurements, an Arizona Basin Outlook Report is developed and issued every two weeks beginning Jan. 1 through April 1.
The report is used by farmers, ranchers, municipal water suppliers, and other water users to help manage limited water supplies.