Water resources specialists from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and cooperating partners are forecasting well above normal spring runoff in Arizona’s major rivers and streams based on recent snowpack measurements in Arizona’s mountain watersheds.

Statewide, the Feb. 1 snowpack measured 138 percent of the 30-year average, compared with 71 percent a year ago. The Salt River, Verde River, Little Colorado River, and San Francisco-Upper Gila River Basins have well above normal snow levels for this time of year. The San Francisco Peaks area near Flagstaff is at 204 percent of average as of Feb. 1.

Several major snowstorms during January added to an already above-normal snowpack throughout the mountains of northern and eastern Arizona. NRCS water resources specialist Dino DeSimone said that as a result of these conditions, the forecast calls for normal to well above normal streamflows in all basins during the spring snowmelt season.

“The snowpack and precipitation totals continue to improve, despite all the previous predictions that this was going to be a dry winter,” said DeSimone.

As of Feb. 1, the combined Salt River Project (SRP) system is at 82 percent of capacity with 1,897,883 acre-feet in storage. The SRP system covers the Verde and Salt River watersheds and includes six reservoirs; Horseshoe and Bartlett, both on the Verde River, and Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, and Saguaro, all on the Salt River. At San Carlos, reservoir storage stands at 282,100 acre-feet, or about 36 percent of capacity.

NRCS takes 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 from January 1 through April 1. The report is used by farmers, ranchers, municipal water suppliers, and other water users to help manage limited water supplies.

FEBRUARY 1, 2008 SNOWPACK LEVELS

(Percent of 30-year average snowpack levels as of Jan. 15)

Watershed

Salt River Basin - 133%

Verde River Basin - 151%

Little Colorado River Basin - 125%

San Francisco-Upper Gila River Basin - 138%

Other Points of Interest

Chuska Mountains - 123%

Central Mogollon Rim - 122%

Grand Canyon - 105%

San Francisco Peaks - 204%

Statewide Snowpack - 138%

FEBRUARY 1, 2008 RUNOFF FORECAST:

Salt River (near Roosevelt) - 172%

Verde River (at Horseshoe Dam) - 180%

Gila River (at San Carlos) - 161%

Little Colorado River (above Lyman Lake) - 170%

The NRCS and its cooperative snow surveyors have been measuring snowpacks and estimating spring runoff in Arizona since 1935.

The NRCS Arizona Basin Outlook Report and other related reports are available on the Internet at http://www.az.nrcs.usda.gov/snow. For more information, contact DeSimone at (602) 280-8786.