North Platte River Basin snowmelt runoff update |

North Platte River Basin snowmelt runoff update

Nebraska Extension
Snowpack on the Snowy Mountain Range that feeds the North Plate River system. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation monitors snowpack to estimate the amount of water in the North Platte Basin likely to be available this growing season.
Photo by Gary Stone

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Wyoming Area Office’s forecast for spring snow melt runoff for the North Platte River drainage calls for above-average snow melt runoff.

The total runoff April through July in the North Platte River Basin is expected to be 134 percent of the 30-year average, or 1,278,000 acre-feet.

The forecast is good news for more than 20 irrigation districts in the North Platte River Valley of western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, who rely on surface water from the North Platte drainage to irrigate more than 300,000 acres of crops. Much of that irrigation water is stored in the system of main-stem reservoirs in Wyoming, Seminoe, Kortes, Pathfinder, Alcova, Grey Reef, Glendo and Guernsey. The system also provides power generation, flood control and recreation.

Current snowpack on the sub-basin drainages of the North Platte River drainage:

• Upper Platte, 106% of normal;

• Sweetwater, 82% of normal;

• Lower Platte, 120% of normal;

• Laramie River, 109% of normal.

The total conservation storage capacity of the North Platte Reservoir System reservoirs is approximately 2,815,800 acre-feet. As of March 31, the combined storage water content in the North Platte Reservoirs was 2,301,500 acre-feet, which is 138 percent of the 30-year average.

The major reservoir capacities for storage on upper North Platte River system are Seminoe – 1,017,273 acre-feet, Pathfinder – 1,700,000 acre-feet, and Glendo – 492,022 acre-feet. ❖