Outlook 2018: The Biggest Water Topics in the West This Year

News Deeply –

For the next few months much of the talk around water issues in California and the rest of the Western United States will be about how much precipitation falls, the water content of the snowpack and how temperatures will impact runoff in the spring.

So far, we know we’re off to a slow start in terms of snow accumulation in much of the West.

Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River basin at the start of 2018 is 54 percent of average, roughly the same as in Oregon’s Cascade mountains. Things are a little worse in California, as the average across the Sierra Nevada is about a quarter of normal for this time of year.

But it’s still too soon to tell whether 2018 will be a record dry year or whether some atmospheric rivers will race in to save the day. Last year California swung quickly from extreme drought to flood – which is whiplash for water managers but can also drive policy.

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