NIDIS Intermountain West Drought Early Warning System January 15, 2019

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1 NIDIS Drought and Water Assessment NIDIS Intermountain West Drought Early Warning System January 15, 2019 Precipitation The images above use daily precipitation statistics from NWS COOP, CoCoRaHS, and CoAgMet stations. From top to bottom, and left to right: most recent 7-days of accumulated precipitation in inches; current month-to-date accumulated precipitation in inches; last month's precipitation as a percent of average; water-year-to-date precipitation as a percent of average. Standardized Precipitation Index Page 1 of 14

2 Standardized Precipitation Index standardizes precipitation accumulations for a specified time period into percentile rankings to -1.5 is equivalent to a D1 to D to -2.0 is equivalent to a D2 to D and worse is equivalent to a D3 to D and 60-day SPIs focus on short-term conditions while 6- and 9-month SPIs focus on long-term conditions. SPI data provided by High Plains Regional Climate Center. Snotel and Snowpack Page 2 of 14

3 NIDIS Drought and Water Assessment The above image shows SNOTEL snowpack percentiles for each SNOTEL site in the Intermountain West. The images below show accumulated snow water equivalent in inches (green) compared to average (blue) and last year (red) for several different sub-basins across the UCRB (and were created by the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center). Streamflow Page 3 of 14

4 Page 4 of 14

5 NIDIS Drought and Water Assessment The top left image shows 7-day averaged streamflows as a percentile ranking across the UCRB. The top right image shows 7-day averaged discharge over time at three key sites around the UCRB: The Colorado River at the CO-UT state line; the Green River at Green River, UT; and the San Juan River near Bluff, UT. All streamflow data provided by United States Geological Survey. Surface Water The top left image shows VIC modeled soil moisture as a percentile ranking. The top right image shows satellite-derived vegetation from the VegDRI product (which updates on Mondays). The graphs shown below are plots of reservoir volumes over the past full year and current year to date (black). The dashed line at the top of each graphic indicates the reservoir's capacity, and the background color-coded shading provides context for the range of reservoir Page 5 of 14

6 levels observed over the past 30 years. The data are obtained from the Bureau of Reclamation. Some of the reservoir percentiles don't line up at the new year due to differences in reservoir levels at the beginning of 1985 and the end of Dead storage has been subtracted. Note: Lake Granby data are obtained from the Colorado Division of Water Resources, and only goes back to the year Evaporative Demand Page 6 of 14

7 The above images are available courtesy of NOAA s Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI). Drought classification listed is a function of the depth of reference evapotranspiration accumulated over a given period of record with respect to a climatology of The drought categories displayed are in line with the US Drought Monitor's Percentile Ranking Scheme. Data used to generate these maps come from the North American Land Data Assimilation System Phase-2 (NLDAS-2) project, which assimilates observations of temperature, wind speed, radiation, and vapor pressure deficit. The date indicates the last day of the period of record, and the week number indicates the window size for the period of record. Temperature All images show temperature departures from average over different time periods (last 7 days on top left; month-to-date on top right; last full month on bottom). Temperature departure maps provided by HPRCC ACIS. Page 7 of 14

8 NIDIS Drought and Water Assessment Condition Monitoring and Impacts Map of current condition monitoring reports submitted to CoCoRaHS in the last week overlaid on the current U.S. Drought Monitor depiction. Specific impacts reports from local experts listed below. Page 8 of 14

9 NRCS, New Mexico The San Juans have been getting precipitation events lately in the form of rain. While any precipitation is beneficial, snow is what is really needed right now. Area has to get big storms every couple of weeks just to keep up with average. Seems the last few years, there would be some good December/January storms, but the later season would fizzle out and warm temperatures would lead to early melting. Hoping for a different pattern this year. Outlook The top two images show Climate Prediction Center's Precipitation and Temperature outlooks for 8-14 days. The middle image shows the Weather Prediction Center's Quantitative Precipitation Forecast accumulation for seven days. The bottom left image shows the 3-month precipitation outlook from Climate Prediction Center, and the bottom right image shows the Climate Prediction Center's most recent release of the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook. Page 9 of 14

10 > Summary and Recommendations Page 10 of 14

11 Above is the most recent release of the U.S. Drought Monitor map for the UCRB region. Below shows the proposed changes for this week, with supporting text. Page 11 of 14

12 Summary: January 15, 2019 Since the beginning of January, most of the Intermountain West region has been dominated by an active weather pattern and slightly cooler than average temperatures. The eastern part of the region (east of the Continental Divide) shows a shift to a warmer than average pattern. For the past two weeks, most of the high elevation mountain ranges have received over half an inch to two inches of moisture. While this is good news, a reminder that this is typical for this time of year. We are now in the heart of winter when consistent precipitation (specifically snowfall) is key to keep the snowpack building up toward the peak. It's easy to fall behind with one or two mild weeks in there. Snowpack throughout the IMW is mostly between 75% to 100% of average. The lower values in the Four Corners region have actually shown quite a bit of improvement since the beginning of December. Unfortunately, since the Page 12 of 14

13 beginning of December, snowpack conditions have deteriorated in western Wyoming. The large scale snowpack and temperature patterns are starting to show signs of the developing El Niño. With an El Niño, we typically expect to see warmer than average temperatures and less snow in the northern portion of the IMW, and a wetter signal in the southern portion of the IMW. The 7-day outlook gives us some good news. With the entrance of an atmospheric river from the Pacific and into California, we're expecting to see plenty of moisture pumping into the region later this week. The outlook calls for high elevation areas to receive over an inch and the majority of the Upper Colorado River Basin to receive more than a quarter inch. Forecasted snowfall amounts could be as high as 15 inches over the high mountains of central Utah and large areas of western Colorado. Longer term, we're expecting a mixed bag in terms of temperature and precipitation - but that could be good news too as it might suggest more troughs passing through and bringing more active weather with it. Recommendations: Wyoming: Some expansion of D0 (black outlines) and D1 (maroon outlines) is recommended. Western WY SPIs are below -1 on all timescales from 30- days to 6-months. Snowpack percentiles in the Wyoming and Wind River ranges range from the single digits to the low 20s. Basin snowpack in the region is around 75-80% of average, and the Upper Green is showing about a 1.5 inch deficit in SWE. There's still time to make up these deficits, but this region needs to be closely watched as we approach spring. UCRB: With the exception of areas described in Wyoming, status quo is recommended for the remainder of the UCRB. While widespread precipitation did accumulate over the past week, January is a time when getting half an inch of moisture in a week is just keeping up with average. Snowpack percentiles are improving, which is good for this season, but still struggling to make up for large deficits from last winter. If the current 7-day QPF pans out, we could be looking at improvements next week. Stay tuned. Eastern Colorado: We recommend a 1-category improvement in the Arkansas valley. The area to improve (green outline) received half an inch of precipitation over the last week, which is more than the entire monthly average for January. This storm, along with a decent start to the water year, has pushed the SPIs to mostly positive values on all timescales. Reports are that winter wheat was successfully planted, and we haven't had any reports of negative impacts this water year yet. We're limiting the improvements to not go further west over the Sangre de Cristos and into the San Luis Valley until we see how the next week pans out with lots of moisture in the forecast. Page 13 of 14

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