Winter in the West is off to a less snowy start, but don't worry just yet! Although the snow totals in the Rocky Mountains are lower than usual for this time of year, scientists remain optimistic that the "snow drought" can still be overcome and the gap can be closed.
The amount of snow in the high-altitude regions has a huge impact on the water supply for the entire region. As much as two-thirds of the Colorado River's water originates as snow in Colorado's mountains and eventually flows to around 40 million people in seven states.
Currently, there is significantly less snow than usual in almost every part of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming for late December. The latest data from snow sensors across the region shows snow totals averaging around 60 or 70% of normal in many areas.
However, there is hope for a turnaround. "It's really going to be dependent on what we see in January and February," says Becky Bolinger, Colorado's assistant state climatologist. "We're really going to need an active January and February to make up these deficits and be okay."
Last year, the Rockies experienced big snowstorms, which played a crucial role in replenishing the major reservoirs of the Colorado River. This snowy winter eased tensions surrounding negotiations about sharing the river's water in the future. So let's keep our spirits high and hope for more snow to come!