Wyoming’s snowpack is roughly 20% lower than it was at this time last year. It’s currently at 83% of what is considered normal. But state water supply specialist Lee Hackleman says forecasts indicate that 2013 will be a “neutral year”, meaning we may end up with only slightly below average snowpack going into the summer.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a terrible drought. I think we could be a little bit on the low side,” says Hackleman, “It looks like mainly right now it’s the eastern half of the state, the Laramie, North Platte, Belle Fourche, and Black Hills. The western half of the state actually for this time of year isn’t too bad, better than I would have even thought it would have been.”
Wyoming began a decade of extremes, with record snowpack two years ago followed by a devastating national water shortage. Hackleman says above-average snowfall in 2010-11 helped fill up reservoirs and alleviate the summer’s drought. He says that with the average precipitation predicted this year, reservoirs should remain relatively healthy.
“The storage isn’t as good as it was a year ago, but it’s not terrible,” says Hackleman, “So even with a normal year, I think we should have good enough storage so that everybody that gets water from storage will probably be alright.”
Hackleman says that residents that rely on direct flow water could be more vulnerable during a dry spell. Much of Wyoming has seen very little snow and rainfall since last March.