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Historic, Archive Document 

Do not assume content reflects current scientific knowledge, 
policies, or practices. 




FEDERAL-STATE COOPERATIVE 
SNOW SURVEYS AND IRRIGATION WATER FORECASTS 

for ^ 

Platte and Arkansas Drednage Basins 

By 

Division of Irrigation, Soil Conservation Service 
United States Department of Agriculture 
and 

Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station 



Dala iYicluded in this report were obtained by the agencies named above in 
cooperation with the U. S. Forest Service, National Park Service, State Engi- 
neers of Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico and other Federal, State and 
local organizations. 




As of 
MAY 1, 1950 



May 1, 1950 



WATIiK SUPPLY OUTLOOK 
PLATTE-ARKiu^ISAS DRAINAGE BASIN 



Final snow surveys ior the 1950 season on the Platte and 
Arkansas drainage basins indicate that the trend shown by pre- 
vious surveys is continued. The irrigation season runoff of 
streams is expected, to vary from abo\i.t twice normal on the Sweet- I 
water drainage in Wyonang to about 80 percent of normal on the 
headwaters of tlie Arkansas^ Summer flow of the North Platte is 
expected to exceed th.e average v/hilce on the South Platte and 
its tributaries in Colorado summer flow v/ill be near normals 
Soil moisture conditions are fair to good as a result of late 
April precipitation ^ Irrigation reservoirs on the South Platte 
have slightly more water in storage than a year ago- The major 
reservoirs on the North platte have a record carryover from last 
year''s heavy flow. Snow cover on the Arkar,ijas f^rainage is less 
than average i 

i 



ClffilENNE laWR 

The ^vater supply outlook for the Belle Fourche project and other irri- 
gated areas near the Black Hills in South Dakota snd Wyoming is exccllent<, 
Stre: m.floYi is well above normal due to heavy snow in March. Soil conditions 
in irrigated districts are good. Recent precipitation has been above normal. 
Storage in Eelle Fourche Reservoir is now lIil^jOOO as compared to lU5,000 on 
May 1, I9I490 Storage has increased about 50^000 acre-feet during April, 

NORTH PLAT IE RIVER 

Cn the source of the Sweetwater River southwest of Lander, the m.ojintain 
snow cover has been higher than for any date since snow surveys were started 
in 1936, It was almost twice normal on May 1, On the North Platte drainage 
in Colorado and lyoming the snow is J.5 percent above normal for May 1, and 
is generally above May 1 a year ago. The summer runoff is not expected to 
reach last year's total because of less 3 no?/ accunulation earlier in the- 
season., In North park and at higher elevations above Saratoga, Wyoming, 
there was about two inches of Enow at the end of April. Soil moisture con- 
ditions in eastern Yrroming are fair to good but are poor in irrigated dis- 
tricts of Viiestern Nebraskao Storage in the North Platte reser voir is at a 
record level with a total of about 1,788,000 a ere- feet as compared to 
1, Acq, 000 a year ago-.. In Kingsley reservoir on the North Platte in Nebraska 
the storage is now 1,333,000 acre-feet. 

On the Laramie River the snow cover is slightly above normal and the 
summer runoff in this stream should be a little above average bat much less 
th"n for last year. Lionth-cnd pr^-^cipitation in the L" ramie and Wheatland 
areas has been -v^ell above average and soil m.oisture conditions have improved. 

Kiscellaneous Series Paper No, U69, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station 

(1) 



Viihcatland Reservoirs now have about ^5,000 acre-feet in storage as compared 
to 31^000 a year ago. 

SOUTH PLATTE RIVER 

SnoT/v cover on the headwaters of the South Platte and its tributaries in 
Northern Colorado was slightly above normal on May 1 due largely to storms at 
the end of April, Summer rimoff from these streams should be near average 
for this season. Since an average runoff is not adequate to supply irriga- 
tion needs in a dry suminer, the amount of rainfall during the summer months 
in irriR'ated areas will be a major factor in the water supply this year. In 
respect to average the summer flow on the South Platte above Denver and Clear 
Breek may be a little above while the flow of Boulder Creek and the Saint 
Vrain, Big Thompson and Pou.dre Rivers ^^all be near average. The flow of all 
these streams v.rill be much less than for the 19*49 season. Due to the lack 
of snow at lower mountain elevations stre-umfloTiT mil probably rem.ain below 
normal till the end of May. Soil moisture conditions in the South Platte 
^alley near the mount ai. ns are now fair to good but are poor from Fort Morgan 
on to Nebraska, Storage in irrigation reservoirs is genurally slightly 
above May 1, 191+9. 

Ground-water levels in the South Platte basin are generally higher than 
for a year ago. Along the ^outh Platte River the rise was from 1 to 3 feet 
except near Brighton and "Sterling where there was little change. In the upper 
pumping area along Box •'^Ider Greek t here was a lowering of up to 1§ feet 
but the position of the water table is normal. Elsewhere on this drainage 
the water table is g to 1-g feet higher. A continued rise occurred in 
Prospect Valley reaching a maxima^ of 6 feet in the central position. The 
usual decline in the Bijou and Kiowa Valleys in Morgan County was not in 
evidence during the past year. In the Cache la Poudre Valley the water table 
is froFi 'I to 2 feet higher. North of Greeley on Lone Tree Greek there T\rere 
both declines and gains of from to 1 foot, 

ARKANSAS 

The water supply outlook on the Arkansas River is not as favorable as 
in northern Colorado o Summer runoff is expected to be about 85 percent of 
norm.al at Salida... Snow cover on the extreme headwaters of this stream has 
been above normal since April 1, At Marshall Pass and on the headwaters 
of the Fountain Creek and the Huerfano^ Cucharas and Purgatoire Rivers, the 
snow cover has been extremely Ioyj througnout the mnter season. Unless there 
is unusually heav:^r rainfall this suinmer the discharge of these stream.s vjill 
be near the manimum of recordn Soil moisture conditions throughout the 
valley are poor. Precipitation has been far b elow average throughout the 
winter season. Streamflow is generally less than 50 percent of average. 

In the Arkansas Valley there are a few local areas near Avondale and 
Rocky Ford where the water table is 1 to l| feet higher. Elsewhere there 
is little change from last year. 



WATER CONTENT OF SNOW ON THE WATERSHEDS OF 
PLATTE, ARKANSAS, UPPER COLORADO AND RIO GRANDE BASINS 
BASED ON SNOW SURVEYS MADE APPROXIMATELY FIRST DAY OF MONTH 

In Per GO lit of Normal 
¥v.y 1, 1950 




IToto : 
on tliG 
no c J s s 



T'.ic r.bove numbers represent actual snow cover on the- snov courses 
-■.'atershcd in percent of normal May 1, 19 50. Those niirnb-.rs do not 
xrily coincide vath expected surj^.or runoff. 



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