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Runoff forecast average so far

Feb 25, 2014 - Staff

The first look ahead toward spring-summer snowmelt runoff in the Wind River Basin predicts water availability to be at or near the 30-year average.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released its February forecast of snowmelt covering the period from April through July for the Wind River at high elevation, Bull Lake Reservoir and Boysen Reservoir.

Upstream, BuRec forecasts April through July runoff into the Wind River above Bull Lake Creek at 425,000 acre feet, which is 107 percent of the 30-year average for 397,000 acre feet.

An acre foot is the amount of water required to cover an acre of flat land to a depth of one foot. It equates to about 326,000 gallons of water.

Inflow to Bull Lake Reservoir is predicted at 130,000 acre feet from July through April. That's 95 percent of the 30-year average inflow of 137,000 acre feet. Remaining water from the Wind River will flow downstream.

At Boysen Reservoir, which is a much larger body than Bull Lake, inflow in the spring and early summer is forecast at 475,000 acre feet, 89 percent of the 30-year average of 534,000 acre feet. Boysen has more sources of inflow than Bull Lake and is restrained by a bigger dam.

Coleman Smith is the new Wyoming Area Manager for the bureau, overseeing operations at Bull Lake and Boysen Reservoirs as well as smaller BuRec operations in Fremont County, including Pilot Butte Reservoir, also known as Morton Lake.

Downstream, the bureau's dam and reservoir network also includes Buffalo Bill Reservoir near Cody and Bighorn Lake near Lovell, also known as Yellowtail Reservoir. Water from the Fremont County properties flows to Bighorn Lake.

Runoff to Bighorn Lake is predicted to be 1.14 million acre feet, 107 percent of average. At Buffalo Bill, projected inflow is 720,000 acre feet, 108 percent of average.

The latest BuRec forecast is dated Feb. 11. Two new storms have left more snow in the Wind River Mountains since then.

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