Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Runoff Prospects Improving

Significant storms have crossed Wyoming the past two weekends.  As a result there has been an improvement in the snowmelt runoff  prospects for the Star Valley region.  In addition, below normal temperatures, unlike in 2012, have slowed the melting process.  Following are graphs of SNOTEL sites as of Sunday April 14, 2013.

Willow Creek SNOTEL
The Willow Creek reading have reversed since April 1st and now are above the levels as of the same time in 2012, and with a cold week ahead, should not show any significant melting for the next week or so.  While readings are still less than the 30 year average,  improvement has occurred.

Cottonwood SNOTEL
While typically less than at Willow Creek, the Cottonwood SNOTEL  has also shown an improvement over 2012, though still below the normal.

Salt River Summit SNOTEL

At the top of Salt River Summit  this SNOTEL is about 1000 feet lower elevation than the previous two.  However the same trend is noted  in the past two weeks.  Still below normal but improved over 2012.

It is interesting to look at other SNOTEL sites around the west

Squaw Valley CA SNOTEL
For the second year  the Sierras of California have a very poor snow season.  It could be a very thirsty year for California crops!

Brighton UT SNOTEL
For our neighbors to the south it appears to be another well below normal runoff this Spring.  Brighton in the Wasatch above the Salt Lake Valley did have some improvement in the past two weeks, but still well below the 30 year normal.

The runoff is now over in the Arizona mountains as shown by the Baldy SNOTEL in the White Mountains.  It could be an early fire season in Arizona.

Paradise Ranger Station WA SNOTEL

The Pacific Northwest has had a second year of above normal snow.  The Paradise Ranger Station SNOTEL located on the slopes of Mt Rainer has over 85 inches of snow water equivalent in their snowpack as of 4/14/13 and still climbing!


  1. Hey Jack... when I lived in CA, I remember the LADWP stopped their measurements of Sierra water/snowpack on April 1.. or at least, they didn't consider anything after that date to be of much significance due to the rapid sublimation that beings around this time, and into the spring months.

    Is this not necessarily the case for other areas of the west, especially further north?... or are we just seeing a result of significant storms and cold temps helping those numbers go up when they normally might not rise so much this time of year?

    I've been impressed with the water numbers in NW WY going from 84% last week to 90% this week... again, especially this time of year.

    Hopefully, my post makes sense..


    1. Todd, Sublimation does factor in some, but it has been a tough two years in the Sierras, and we here in Wyoming have benefited from two good storms so far this month. Also the colder than normal temps have slowed the melt as well.