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Published January 15, 2014, 02:07 PM

Water outlook better east of the Continental Divide

A limited water supply is predicted west of the Continental Divide, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service National Water and Climate Center data in its first forecast of 2014.

By: USDA,

A limited water supply is predicted west of the Continental Divide, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service National Water and Climate Center data in its first forecast of 2014.

The National Water and Climate Center also predicts normal water supply east of the Continental Divide. It will continue to monitor, forecast and update water supplies for the next six months.

Monitoring snowpack of 13 western states, the center’s mission is to help the western United States prepare for spring and summer snowmelt and streamflow by providing periodic forecasts. It’s a tool for farmers, ranchers, water managers, communities and recreational users to make informed, science-based decisions about future water availability.

“Right now the West Coast is all red,” said NRCS Hydrologist Tom Perkins. “Early indications are it will be very dry in the western part of the West, but wetter as you travel east. There are some exceptions to this, as New Mexico, Arizona, parts of Utah and southern Colorado are also expected to be dry.”

“But that could all change by the end of the season. This early in the season — who knows? It always changes,” Perkins said.

Since 1935, NRCS has conducted snow surveys and issued regular water supply forecasts. Since the late 1970s, NRCS has been installing, operating and maintaining an extensive, high-elevation automated system called SNOTEL, designed to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the western U.S. and Alaska.

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