April 4, 2019: Following the record snowfalls of early March, which substantially increased the runoff forecasts for McPhee, late March was drier than predicted by CBRFC, which tempered the official forecast by April 1st. Despite this, chances for a managed release are still over 50%.
Currently, the local SNOTEL sites are averaging 155% of the median snowpack for the beginning of April. The sites have already shown some sign of melt, indicating that the runoff is beginning. According to the CBRFC, looking forward, we’re moving into a wetter, more active period in terms of precipitation. Their model currently predicts both a weak storm system coming in Saturday and a more robust storm system around Tuesday to Thursday next week. These storms will likely reduce temperatures and slow the melt to some degree. They anticipate average to above-average precipitation during the next two-week period, though these storms are expected to influence the runoff more through reduced temperatures and increased cloud cover than through any increase in precip.
McPhee is still near the bottom of its active pool, and due to the large volume which must be restored, any spill would not start until mid to late May and could last from 1 to 4 weeks. At most of 2 months out, this leaves some time still to monitor and plan.
The Bureau of Reclamation has set a public meeting on April 18th at 7:00 PM at the Dolores Community Center to discuss the managed release and operations. The next update will be around April 22nd after the next CBRFC mid-month forecast. For the next few weeks, releases below McPhee will remain at 40 CFS for the downstream fishery.