Mostly Sunny


Powell, WY

Mostly Sunny

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 4 mph

Cautiously optimistic

Promising precipitation seen at start of 2014

So far, so good, as winter snow accumulates and area reservoirs draw snow runoff.

But experts said they hope mountains amass more snow from spring storms. Reservoir storage across Wyoming is slightly below average for January, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA.

But, also according to NOAA numbers, snowpack across the state was above average for the most part and December precipitation was also above average.

Wyoming reservoir storages are 85 to 90 percent of average for January, according to NOAA.

Local reservoirs averaged nearly 81 percent full this week.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir was 72 percent full Sunday. Reservoir storage was at 465,441 acre-feet. Inflow was 236 cubic feet per second (cfs) and outflow was 344.9 cfs, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Boysen Reservoir storage was 590,072 acre feet Sunday. It was more than 79 percent full. Inflow was 643.2 cfs and outflow was 480.8 cfs.

Big Horn Lake or Yellowtail Reservoir storage was 924,475 acre feet Sunday, or nearly 91 percent full. Inflow was 1,721.4 cfs and outflow was 2,405 cfs, according to the bureau.

The bureau office in Billings and NOAA had cheerful news.

“Based on Jan. 1 water supply forecast and the planned releases out of Boysen and Buffalo Bill reservoirs, the April-July runoff into Big Horn Lake is expected to equal 1,143,200 acre feet (107 percent of average),” a Jan. 7 report from the bureau stated.

One acre foot covers one acre of land to a depth of 1 foot. 

The statewide snow water equivalent or SWE average Tuesday was 117 percent, based on the NRCS’ 30 year average.

The Shoshone basin’s SWE was 118 percent Monday, down from 124 percent last Tuesday. The Big Horn basin was 138 percent Monday, down from 139 percent last Tuesday.

Bear in mind the above averages are based on snow for this time of year. April and May are the peak snowfall months in Wyoming’s high country, said Lee Hackleman, water supply specialist for the NRCS office in Casper.

“Some late spring storms can really change things,” Hackleman said.

The water supply outlook for the North Fork of the Shoshone River was 485,000 acre feet, according to a Jan. 15 NOAA table.

Wyoming’s drought monitor from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Jan. 14, said no drought in the Big Horn Basin, but much of the state is “abnormally dry.” One spot on the western edge of the state south of Yellowstone National Park and another spot southeast of Newcastle are reported as “moderately dry.”

Snow appears to be piling up in the mountains.

Blackwater, west of Cody, at 9,780 feet has accumulated 53 inches so far this year. Marquette, southwest of Cody, at 8,760 feet, has accumulated 20 inches of snow this year. Sylvan Lake, in Yellowstone National Park, at 8,420 feet, has accumulated 44 inches this year. Those snotel counts are according to the NRCS.

Across the state precipitation was above average across the state last month.

Wyoming December 2013 precipitation was nearly 120 percent of average. Near normal streamflow volumes are expected across major basins in Wyoming. The Jan. 15 figures are from NOAA, based on a 30 year average (1981-2010) by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Powell precipitation was plentiful last year.

There was nearly 7.6 inches of precipitation in Powell in 2013. The 118 year (1895 to 2013) average is 6.6 inches, according to Terry Foley’s PowellWeather.Net.

So far, Powell has received 0.02 precipitation this year, according to the Powell Field Station north of town.

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