Feb 3, 2015

Snowpack continues downward slide

Snow-water equivalent stations around the state continue to show snowpack decline, but there is some potential for moderate flooding this spring in Hot Springs County.

“We dropped from 97 percent to 94 percent of median over the past week,” said Lee Hackleman, water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Casper. “Last year we were at 120 percent of median.”

Shoshone basin was at 109 percent of average snow-water equivalent (SWE) on Feb. 2, compared to 115 percent one week ago. Big Horn Basin SWE was 103 percent Feb. 2, down 2 percent from one week ago, according to a 30-year average from 1981 to 2010 calculated by the NRCS.

A year ago, Shoshone SWE was 118 percent and Big Horn Basin was 143 percent.

“This week promises a little snow, so maybe we can at least hold onto the 94 percent,” Hackleman said.

“There is a low-to-moderate potential for flooding associated with snowmelt (due to current snow depths) expected along portions of Hot Springs County,” a Jan. 26 release from Jim Fahey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologist stated. “Low to moderate potential for flooding associated with snowmelt is expected across various headwater streams along eastern portions of the Big Horn Basin.”

Streams with the highest potential for flooding include Medicine Lodge Creek, Ten Sleep Creek and portions of the Nowood River, Fahey said. Potential spring flooding is low around Cody and Powell so far, according to a map Fahey provided.

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