Cool Spring Defers Catastrophe, So Far [AUDIO]
The cooler spring may have helped save Wyoming from a disastrous flooding season, but along with those cooler temperatures came extra precipitation, with much of it still in the mountain snow-pack. Lee Hackleman, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, says snow-pack usually peaks in April, with the snow falling afterward melting off instead of accumulating. This year, more snow kept being added.
Late spring snow doesn't normally accumulate:
"As of Monday we were, I don't know, 700 percent. Of course you got to remember we're on the down-slope, so some drainages, if there's only supposed to be one inch left and we have seven inches left, so that's 700 percent but that's only six inches different."
Mr. Hackleman says a stretch of hot weather in recent weeks would have been a catastrophe.
Hot weather would've sunk us:
"That would've been the worst thing that could happen, get a week of 90 degrees with that much water setting up in the mountains ready to come out, and then a thundershower to hit that too. It was setting just right for a catastrophe. But thus far, even though the rivers are running brim-full, it's been a slow melt-out considering how much water we have up there."
We still have a few weeks to go before we are out of danger because rain falling on the snow-pack doubles the amount of runoff and the river drainages can't handle much more, says Hackleman.
Conditions still dicey:
"Couple of thunderstorms in the right place, bunch of warm rain hits it at the same time you got warm temperatures, it makes it doubly bad then, get an inch of warm rain and it'll melt an inch or two of snow at the same time."
Hackleman credits the Bureau of Reclamation for early action with water releases from reservoirs like Seminoe, which was drawn down to make room for the runoff. The next few weeks will tell if they made enough room.