The New Year is off to a good start with high elevation snowpack sitting at, or just above, median for the Bighorn Basin. In addition, inflows into Bighorn Reservoir are slightly higher than 2022 January levels, but still remain 95% of average for this time of year - meaning that January has been slightly drier than average, while snowpack remains slightly higher. Over the next two weeks forecasts show that the Bighorn Basin has a 33 - 50 percent chance that precipitation will be above average, with temperatures forecasted to remain near, or just below average. The good news is that due to increases in inflow, Bighorn River releases will increase from 2,365 cfs to 2,500 cfs either today or tomorrow. More water equals more habitat for Bighorn wild trout!
BHRA participates in monthly water calls with the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) throughout the winter months where current, and projected conditions and forecasted are assessed and discussed. As run-off approaches, these meetings will become weekly occurrences. While it is still a bit early in the season to anticipate what to expect in regard to runoff timing and magnitude, we are actively working with USBR to track conditions that can help us prepare for what to expect in spring/summer. As of now, conditions are looking good!
Snow Water Equivalent for Bighorn River. Black line represents current year (2023), red line represents 2022 water year, and green line represents the median. Currently high elevation snowpack is 108% of median which is just slightly above average for January.
Precipitation for the 2023 water (which begins in October) shows that the Bighorn has received slightly above average moisture during the months of November and December. This increase in precipitation has helped increase inflows into Bighorn Reservoir which will equate to Bighorn River flows increasing to 2,500cfs.