McPhee Release Update for Monday June 17, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing flows of approximately 1,600 CFS downstream.

  • Managers increased releases on Wednesday June 12th to 3,400 CFS to abate reservoir elevation gain as well as to perform habitat maintenance flows downstream.
  • Releases remained at 3,400 CFS until noon Saturday June 15th, when releases began ramping down.
  • Releases are still ramping down steadily and will continue to do so until reaching 1,200 CFS at midnight tonight, Monday June 17th.
  • Releases are currently expected to remain at 1,200 CFS through Thursday June 20th as McPhee fills (flows may turn up sooner), after which they will ramp up as necessary to balance reservoir inflows and outflows through the weekend. More information on what weekend releases are expected will come later this week.
  • Releases will remain at or above 1,200 CFS through the weekend, Sunday June 23rd.
  • Following the weekend, releases are expected to ramp down as inflows recede. Currently, managers anticipate there will be a couple more days of releases over 1,200 CFS following June 23rd, potentially through Wednesday June 26th; however, dates and flows at that time will be managed closely in response to inflows.
  • Upcoming, smaller peaks in inflows while the river recedes are likely, and with McPhee at full, managers will react to these as well. More details will continue to be announced on later posts.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

Currently, a slow-moving low-pressure system is present over the Dolores River headwaters, increasing cloud cover and precipitation. This system resulted in significantly reduced inflows over the weekend, and it is currently increasing uncertainty in inflow forecasts as it is interrupting predicted runoff patterns and intercepting satellite imagery of the extent of the snowpack.

As of today, all the SNOTEL sites in the McPhee drainage basin below 11,000 ft have hit zero. This means managers are now “snow blind”, and can no longer use melt rates to inform anticipated daily runoff volumes, further increasing uncertainty in inflow forecasts.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

 

Dolores Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE

Dolores below McPhee:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

DRBA:  https://doloresriverboating.org/

AW:  https://www.americanwhitewater.org/

The following are links to the American Whitewater River Inventory pages for the lower Dolores River:

Bradfield to Dove Creek

Dove Creek to Slickrock

Slickrock to Bedrock

Bedrock to Gateway

Gateway to Confluence with the Colorado River

McPhee Release Update for Thursday June 13, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing high flows of approximately 3,400 CFS downstream.

  • Managers increased releases on Sunday to 2,600 CFS to abate reservoir elevation gain as inflows into McPhee Reservoir exceeded projected peak inflows over the weekend.
  • After receiving new forecast information Tuesday June 11th, releases were increased to 3,000 CFS yesterday morning.
  • Current inflow forecasts are now predicting that another peak is forecasted to arrive this Friday or Saturday, and it may be equal to or potentially higher than the peak inflows experienced last Sunday, June 9th.
  • Because of these forecasted high inflows, the uncertainty in the inflow forecast due to upcoming weather, and the reservoir nearing full, releases must now be managed on a more regular basis. Be aware that downstream releases may change on an hourly basis between roughly 2,000 CFS and 3,400 CFS through Monday June 17th. During this time, flows will not be scheduled to ramp down more than 800 CFS in a single day.
  • Following the weekend, releases are expected to ramp down as inflows recede, though timing and target flows are still uncertain. Upcoming, smaller peaks in inflows while the river recedes are likely.

Releases will remain at or above 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days after June 23rd – this should become more clear in coming weeks. Details on flows following June 23rd should be available the week beforehand. More details will continue to be announced on later posts.

The possibility remains for the next couple of weeks that inflows will increase significantly above modeled flows for brief periods. If the reservoir is too full when this occurs, managers can be forced to respond by increasing releases steeply with little notice. To mitigate the possibility of this when inflows peak this weekend, releases are now at high flows of about 3,400 CFS.

The option of allowing releases to fluctuate through the next few days was discussed with and approved by both rafting and ecological representatives. This option leaves open the possibilities of both reaching habitat maintenance flows above 3,000 CFS and varying releases (which alters river levels and the water table), each of which can benefit the downstream riparian ecosystems in different ways. When these changes occur between 2,000 CFS and 3,400 CFS, flows remain at either optimal or high raftable flows, allowing for viable recreation. The ability to fluctuate flows also allows managers to follow inflows as needed, within the range, to maintain desired reservoir elevations.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

Currently, a high-pressure system is present over central Colorado, and above average temperatures are expected through Friday June 14th. The high temperatures combined with the substantial amount of snowpack remaining at high elevations are expected to sustain inflows around 4,000 CFS until the weekend.

Afterwards, a slow-moving low-pressure system is expected to move into the region and pass over the Dolores River headwaters – beginning this weekend and extending into next week –increasing cloud cover and precipitation. It is not yet known how much of an effect this system will have on inflows into McPhee.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

A message from Dolores River Boating Advocates and American Whitewater:

“As these inflows from the mountains fluctuate and McPhee releases also fluctuate within low, optimal, and high flow ranges, consider how this can impact boating experiences overall.  Making note of river levels anecdotally while on the river can be useful to maintain awareness of flow changes.  As flows increase or decrease, take appropriate measures to keep your boat tied off appropriately so it is not beached nor is loose as flows rise.  And note that the braided channel options will increase with increased water; stay aware of the various options.”

 

Dolores Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE

Dolores below McPhee:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

DRBA:  https://doloresriverboating.org/

AW:  https://www.americanwhitewater.org/

The following are links to the American Whitewater River Inventory pages for the lower Dolores River:

Bradfield to Dove Creek

Dove Creek to Slickrock

Slickrock to Bedrock

Bedrock to Gateway

Gateway to Confluence with the Colorado River

McPhee Release Update for Wednesday June 12, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing high flows of approximately 3,000 CFS downstream.

  • Managers increased releases on Sunday to 2,600 CFS to abate reservoir elevation gain as inflows into McPhee Reservoir exceeded projected peak inflows over the weekend.
  • After receiving new forecast information Tuesday June 11th, releases were increased to 3,000 CFS this morning, where they remain.
  • Current inflow forecasts are now predicting that another peak is forecasted to arrive this Friday or Saturday, and it may be equal to or potentially higher than the peak inflows experienced last Sunday, June 9th.
  • Because of these forecasted high inflows, the uncertainty in the inflow forecast due to upcoming weather, and the reservoir nearing full, releases must now be managed on a more regular basis. Be aware that downstream releases may change on an hourly basis between roughly 2,000 CFS and 3,400 CFS through Monday June 17th. During this time, flows will not be scheduled to ramp down more than 800 CFS in a single day.
  • Following the weekend, releases are expected to ramp down as inflows recede, though timing and target flows are still uncertain. Upcoming, smaller peaks in inflows while the river recedes are likely.

Releases will remain at or above 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days after June 23rd – this should become more clear in coming weeks. Details on flows following June 23rd should be available the week beforehand. More details will continue to be announced on later posts.

The possibility remains for the next couple of weeks that inflows will increase significantly above modelled flows for brief periods. If the reservoir is too full when this occurs, managers can be forced to respond by increasing releases steeply with little notice. To mitigate the possibility of this when inflows peak this weekend, releases are now scheduled to increase steadily to high flows of about 3,400 CFS starting this evening, Wednesday June 12th.

The option of allowing releases to fluctuate through the next few days was discussed with and approved by both rafting and ecological representatives. This option leaves open the possibilities of both reaching habitat maintenance flows above 3,000 CFS and varying releases (which alters river levels and the water table), each of which can benefit the downstream riparian ecosystems in different ways. When these changes occur between 2,000 CFS and 3,400 CFS, flows remain at either optimal or high raftable flows, allowing for viable recreation. The ability to fluctuate flows also allows managers to follow inflows as needed, within the range, to maintain desired reservoir elevations.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

Currently, a high-pressure system is present over central Colorado, and above average temperatures are expected through Friday June 14th. The high temperatures combined with the substantial amount of snowpack remaining at high elevations are expected to sustain inflows around 4,000 CFS until the weekend.

Afterwards, a slow-moving low-pressure system is expected to move into the region and pass over the Dolores River headwaters – beginning this weekend and extending into next week –increasing cloud cover and precipitation. It is not yet known how much of an effect this system will have on inflows into McPhee.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

A message from Dolores River Boating Advocates and American Whitewater:

“As these inflows from the mountains fluctuate and McPhee releases also fluctuate within low, optimal, and high flow ranges, consider how this can impact boating experiences overall.  Making note of river levels anecdotally while on the river can be useful to maintain awareness of flow changes.  As flows increase or decrease, take appropriate measures to keep your boat tied off appropriately so it is not beached nor is loose as flows rise.  And note that the braided channel options will increase with increased water; stay aware of the various options.”

 

Dolores Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE

Dolores below McPhee:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

DRBA:  https://doloresriverboating.org/

AW:  https://www.americanwhitewater.org/

The following are links to the American Whitewater River Inventory pages for the lower Dolores River:

Bradfield to Dove Creek

Dove Creek to Slickrock

Slickrock to Bedrock

Bedrock to Gateway

Gateway to Confluence with the Colorado River

 

 

McPhee Release Update for Tuesday June 11, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing high flows of approximately 2,600 CFS downstream.

  • Managers increased releases on Sunday to 2,600 CFS to abate reservoir elevation gain as inflows into McPhee Reservoir exceeded projected peak inflows over the weekend.
  • After receiving new forecast information today, releases are now expected to increase to high flows of approximately 3,000 CFS Wednesday and remain there through the week and potentially into the weekend, June 15th and 16th. Current inflow forecasts are now predicting that another peak which is forecasted to arrive this Saturday may be on par with or potentially greater than the peak inflows experienced last Sunday, June 9th. This would cause McPhee to rise in elevation more rapidly than intended, and releases are being increased to prepare for this possibility.
  • Following the weekend, releases are expected to ramp down as inflows recede, though timing and target flows are still uncertain. Upcoming, smaller peaks in inflows while the river recedes are likely.

Releases will remain at or above 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days after June 23rd – this should become more clear in coming weeks. Details on flows following June 23rd should be available the week beforehand. More details will continue to be announced on later posts.

On Sunday morning, June 9th, inflows into McPhee reached a peak of 4,880 CFS. This peak was both higher and earlier than forecasted, filling McPhee faster than was expected when the Thursday June 6th update was posted.

Like on Sunday, the possibility remains for the next couple of weeks that inflows will increase significantly beyond what was modelled. If the reservoir is too full when this occurs, managers can be forced to respond by increasing releases steeply with little notice. To mitigate the possibility of this when inflows peak again this weekend, releases are now scheduled to increase steadily to high flows of about 3,000 CFS starting tomorrow morning, Wednesday June 12th, and remain there through the present week and potentially into the weekend, June 15th and 16th.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

Currently, a high-pressure system is present over central Colorado, and above average temperatures are expected through Friday June 14th. The high temperatures combined with the substantial amount of snowpack remaining at high elevations are expected to sustain inflows around 4,000 CFS through to the weekend.

Afterwards, a slow-moving low-pressure system is expected to move into the region and pass over the Dolores River headwaters – beginning this weekend and extending into next week –increasing cloud cover and precipitation. It is not yet known how much of an effect this system will have on inflows into McPhee.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

Dolores Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE

Dolores below McPhee:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

 

McPhee Release Update for Monday June 10, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing approximately 2,600 CFS downstream.

  • Managers increased releases on Sunday to 2,600 CFS to abate reservoir elevation gain as inflows into McPhee Reservoir exceeded projected peak inflows over the weekend.
  • Releases are expected to remain at approximately 2,000 to 2,600 CFS through this week and next weekend, June 15th and 16th, as current model runs suggest the current near-peak inflows (around 4,000 CFS) will continue through Sunday.
  • Following the weekend, releases are expected to ramp down some as inflows recede, though timing and target flows are still uncertain.

Releases will remain at a minimum of 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days – this should become more clear in coming weeks. Details on flows following June 23rd should be available the week beforehand. More details will continue to be announced on later posts.

On Sunday morning, inflows into McPhee reached a peak of 4,880 CFS. This peak was both higher and earlier than forecasted, filling McPhee faster than was expected when the last update was posted. Because of this and the continued higher inflows projected for the upcoming week, the lower releases (1,200 to 1,800 CFS) originally intended for Tuesday through Thursday of this week would have caused the reservoir to fill earlier than desired, reducing control over the remaining releases downstream.  To avoid this, releases are now scheduled to remain above 2,000 CFS through the present week. Releases are still expected to be at optimal rafting flows or more for the weekend, June 15th and 16th.

McPhee is currently about 15,000 AF below full capacity and should fill steadily over the next two or three weeks. As demonstrated by the change in releases this week, there remains the possibility that, should inflows increase dramatically beyond what is forecasted, managers will be forced to increase releases to maintain the desired steady gain in reservoir elevation. Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

Currently, a high-pressure system is present over central Colorado, and above average temperatures are expected through Friday June 14th; however, some scattered cloud cover remains over the Dolores headwaters. The high temperatures combined with the substantial amount of snowpack remaining at high elevations are expected to sustain inflows around 4,000 CFS through to the weekend.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

Dolores Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE

Dolores below McPhee:  https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

 

McPhee Release Update for Thursday June 6, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing approximately 1,000 CFS downstream, as flows ramp up to 1,200 CFS by Friday morning.

  • On Friday June 7th, releases will continue to ramp up from 1,200 CFS, reaching at least 2,000 CFS by the morning of Saturday June 8th, for optimal boating flows.
  • Releases will continue to ramp up from 2,000 CFS, reaching approximately 2,400 CFS by the morning of Sunday June 9th.
  • Releases will remain at about 2,400 CFS until the morning of Monday June 10th.
  • The morning of Monday June 10th, releases are expected to begin ramping down to target some ecological goals during the middle of the week. Releases on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are expected to run between 1,800 CFS and 1,200 CFS, depending on forecast conditions.
  • Releases are currently expected to ramp up to around 2,000 CFS again around the weekend of June 15th and 16th, though the timing is still uncertain.

Releases will remain at a minimum of 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days – this should become more clear in coming weeks. Details on flows following June 23rd should be available the week beforehand. During this period, releases may reach flows of around 2,000 CFS and above on some days. More details will be announced on later posts.

The current release pattern of higher flows on the two upcoming weekends and lower flows mid-week has been adopted in order to achieve two objectives. First, it prioritizes optimal boating flows – around 2,000 CFS – on the weekends, when more recreationalists can get on the water; and second, the variability in river levels can potentially contribute to channel maintenance, encouraging bank destabilization, a long-term ecological benefit.

McPhee is currently approximately 30,000 AF below full capacity and should fill steadily over the next two or three weeks. There remains the possibility that, should inflows increase dramatically beyond what is forecasted, managers will be forced to increase releases to control reservoir elevation. Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

For details on the forecast, read on.

May was a difficult month for inflow forecasts. A persistent low pressure trough settled over the region during the second half of the month which brought with it both temperatures that were consistently 7-9 degree F below average, as well as extensive, regular cloud cover. The extra cloud cover resulted in a reduction of inflows into the reservoir, which tends to confuse the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s (CBRFC) inflow forecasts; worse, that same cloud cover also effectively blinded the satellites used to visually measure snow cover in the mountains, further muddying the forecast. These factors meant that the CBRFC’s model consistently predicted temperatures that were much higher than what occurred and was regularly over-estimating daily flows across SW Colorado.

While the trough is moving away this week, uncertainty persists in forecasting the daily inflows into McPhee. Temperatures are expected to rise to near normal this weekend, however, some cloud cover remains. Around June 9th, a new cold front is expected to pass over Colorado. It will primarily pass north of the Dolores headwaters, but will likely reduce temperatures some. It is too early to predict the influence it will have on inflows. After that front, the CBRFC expects that a significant warm-up is possible around Tuesday to Thursday, June 12th to 13th, with temperatures rising to 5-10 degrees F above average. The CBRFC noted that these high temperatures combined with the substantial amount of snowpack still remaining at high elevations could result in especially high runoff on these days or those immediately after. Accordingly, the CBRFC anticipates many headwater basins will reach their peak runoff next week.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

Dolores Gage:    https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=ELEV

Dolores below McPhee:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:          http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

McPhee Release Update for Monday June 3, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing 400 CFS downstream.

  • Downstream flows will remain at 400 CFS until the morning of Wednesday June 5th, when releases will begin to ramp up, which will bring releases to 800 CFS by Thursday morning, June 6th.
  • On June 6th, flows will continue to ramp up until reaching at least 1,200 CFS by midnight the morning of Friday June 7th.
  • There is a chance this weekend that releases will continue ramping up to 2,000 CFS after reaching 1,200 CFS Friday, though when exactly this would happen is indeterminate at this time.

After June 7th, releases will remain at least at 1,200 CFS through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days – this should become more clear in coming weeks. During this period, releases may reach flows of around 2,000 CFS and above on some days. More details will be announced on later posts.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

Dolores Gage:    https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=ELEV

Dolores below McPhee:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:          http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100

 

 

McPhee Release Update for Thursday May 30, 2019

McPhee is currently releasing 800 CFS downstream for scheduled CPW fish surveys in Slickrock Canyon.

  • Downstream flows will remain at 800 CFS through noon today, Thursday May 30th, when releases will begin to ramp down.
  • Flows will ramp down starting at noon until reaching 600 CFS on the morning of Friday May 31st.
  • Flows will then hold at 600 CFS until the morning of Saturday June 1st, when they will begin ramping down again, which will continue through the whole day until reaching 400 CFS on the morning of Sunday June 2nd.
  • Flows will remain at 400 CFS until the morning of Wednesday June 5th, when releases will begin to ramp up, which will bring releases to 800 CFS by Thursday morning, June 6th.
  • On June 6th, flows will continue to ramp up until reaching at least 1,200 CFS by midnight the morning of Friday June 7th.
  • Flows will hold at 1,200 CFS or more for the weekend of June 7th, 8th, and 9th.

After June 9th, releases will remain at 1,200 CFS or more through Sunday June 23rd, after which flows are yet to be determined. Based on the margin of error in current inflow forecasts, it is possible there will be additional rafting days – this should become more clear in coming weeks. During this period, releases may reach flows of around 2,000 CFS and above on some days. Details will be announced on later posts.

Please continue to check back on this site regularly for new updates, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays.

McPhee Release Update for Tuesday May 28, 2019

The Memorial Day weekend release of 1,200 CFS ended this morning, and flows have ramped down to 800 CFS for scheduled CPW fish surveys in Slickrock Canyon. Flows will remain at 800 CFS through noon on Thursday May 30th, when releases will begin to ramp down at the standard rate of 100 CFS per day. These reduced releases are planned in order to allow McPhee to fill, which is in reaction to the recent low inflows that have not been high enough to both release downstream and fill the reservoir. While releases from McPhee are expected to increase again in early June, the specific timing is still being worked on. Since Thursday’s post, the weather forecasts are now suggesting that regional temperatures will rise to near-normal levels by next week. This break in the cold weather pattern means that inflows should get back on track. As a result, mangers are currently anticipating there will be raftable releases for the weekend of June 8th and 9th.

While inflows are expected to turn up, the current scheduled low flows after May 30th will go on as planned. This is both so the reservoir can continue filling and so that recreationalists who intend to ride those lower flows in smaller craft can continue with their plans.

As always, managers will continue to monitor conditions and will post updates to provide as much notice as possible. Expect another post with more information either tomorrow or Thursday.

McPhee Release Update for Wednesday May 22, 2019

The managed release for Memorial Day weekend has begun. Today, McPhee is releasing 400 CFS downstream as it ramps up to 1,200 CFS by the morning of Friday May 24th at a rate of about 400 CFS/day. The 1,200 CFS flows will be maintained through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. On the morning of Tuesday May 28th, flows will ramp down to 800 CFS and will remain there through noon on Thursday May 30th, when releases will begin to ramp down to 200 CFS at the standard ramp-down rate of 100 CFS/day. This pause in the spill is a reaction to the lower-than-predicted inflows McPhee has been receiving as a result of the cold weather, and is planned in order to give the reservoir a chance to fill, as McPhee cannot simultaneously fill & spill on these current low inflows, and McPhee must be filled during the runoff season. When McPhee gets closer to full, we can better manage the forecasted inflow error, which is currently at +/- 40,000 AF.  We have a 70% probability – based on current volumetric inflow forecasts – of having excess water later in June. The current 10 day forecast indicates below normal temperatures and high chances for rain, which pushes the “re-open” date to between June 9th – 16th, though that date is subject to updated forecasts and has not been confirmed yet.

We will continue monitoring conditions with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) and will continue to post updates as the forecast changes to give as much notice as possible, primarily on Mondays and Thursdays (this post on Wednesday May 22nd will serve as the post for Thursday May 23rd) with any new information and decisions.

Nominally, that completes today’s update; however, for those interested in learning more on the current decision sequence, please read on.

The May 1st forecast originally had more volume coming into McPhee than storage space available, so on May 3rd we tried to foreshadow releases starting before Memorial Day.  Many people planned on that announcement.  As we talked to the forecasters, we learned that the weather pattern of closed lows that made all this extra wet cool weather recently were highly unpredictable. By May 15th we saw the snow pack was going to hang in the mountains and that we would miss projected reservoir elevation targets, but accommodated Memorial Day anyway.  About 190 KAF has come down already this season, and while we know water is still up there, we do not know if there is 160,000 AF left or 190,000 AF left or exactly when it will come down, both of which will determine how much excess water is available to spill. Therefore, we decided to continue with an announced spill over Memorial Day and some fish monitoring flows afterwards with the potential to have to shut down the spill after those monitoring flows.  Since last Friday May 17th the Dolores River flows have dropped from 2,900 CFS to 1,000 CFS. Continuing the spill after the 30th would likely cause a loss in reservoir elevation. We will have to ramp down after May 30th. The 10 day weather forecast remains below average with chance of clouds & rain which can both slow the melt.  When we get into some more predictable sunny weather and river inflows increase, which usually happens in June, we should be able to continue spilling any excess water.

Also, there has been a statement floating around about this year being at “300% of snowpack”, and this has caused some confusion. What this means is that, for this day of the year, May 22nd – when most of our SNOTELS have traditionally melted out to zero – we are three times as high as we have been on average for this day in previous years. It does not mean that the current remaining snow is a record amount compared to the traditional snowpack peak dates, which are around April 1st of most years. It only means that what snow we have is lingering longer than normal.

If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.

Dolores Gage:    https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=ELEV

Dolores below McPhee:  http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Slickrock Gage:  https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730

Bedrock Gage:          http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100