Friday, March 23, 2007

Elephant Butte Lake and Weather Conditions

Thursday morning’s Albuquerque Journal article noted that spring runoff is beginning early. The Rio Grande near Pilar and Embudo is running at record levels for this time of year.

As of 9:00 Friday morning Elephant Butte Lake was at 4,347.64 feet above benchmark with 609,359 acre feet of water. The lake is up about two inches and 2,300 acre feet in the past three days; inflow from early runoff is more than keeping up with spring irrigation. This is even in spite of Thursday morning’s increase to 1100 c.f.s. of outflow from the dam, and the lake is within an inch of its highest level so far this year.

Snowpack is down because of the dry spell during late winter, as well as due to runoff that has started earlier than usual. Snowpack (snow water equivalent percent of normal) as of March 22:
68% Rio Chama basin
66% Upper Rio Grande basin
83% Sangre de Cristo basin
57% Jemez basin
75% Pecos basin
66% San Juan headwaters
73% Upper Rio Grande basin in Colorado
60% Southwest Colorado
( )

Water is flowing into Heron at a good clip, with 300 to 500 c.f.s. inflow from the Azotea Tunnel and Willow Creek balancing the remaining water that contractors are withdrawing. As of 7:00 am Friday morning, Heron was at 7136.78 feet elevation, with 168,553 acre feet; unchanged in the past 71 hours.

Today’s cloudy weather is expected to persist through Friday night and then gradually clear off on Saturday, with bright sunny skies the rule by Sunday. Moderate temperatures with good winds, occasional showers, and a mix of sun and clouds should be the rule on Saturday afternoon.


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