Snowpack continues to amaze!

Friends:In case you’re wondering how the recent weather has affected the snowpack in the region, here’s a couple locations to consider:Bighorn Basin – 139% of averageWind River Basin – 122% of averageShoshone River Basin – 135% of averageUpper Yellowstone Basin – 153% of average

Flows to increase to 6,500cfs

With snowpack in the Bighorn Basin at 136% of average and a lake elevation just above 3,618ft, its not surprisingly Montana Area manager Dan Jewell sent this email: In response to further increases in the inflow forecast for Yellowtail Dam Reservoir, and consistent with the provisions of the Draft Yellowtail Operating Criteria, Reclamation will be increasing releases to the Bighorn River later today from the current rate of 6,250 cubic feet per second to approximately 6,500 cubic feet per second. Additional adjustments in releases throughout the upcoming weeks are probable as the runoff picture continues to evolve. Update at 10:30am:At 4pm today, flows will increase from 6,250cfs to 6,500cfs. Canal releases are still at zero.

Schedule for next bump

Here’s the schedule for increasing river release from 4,750cfs to 6,250cfs.This Saturday at 8am, river release will increase from 4,750cfs to 5,500cfs.On Monday, April 18, at 8am releases will increase from 5,500cfs to 6,250cfs.Reclamation is reporting that snowpack in the Bighorn River Basin is 119%, and that inflows are projected to be 145% of average. Current inflows are already in excess of 4,800cfs as some low land snowmelt is beginning to run off.

Flows to increase to 6,250cfs

At the Bureau of Reclamation spring planning meeting tonight, Area Manager Dan Jewell reported that inflow forecasts are calling for additional increases in releases to the river. Astute river watchers have noticed that, despite recent increases, the lake continues to fill, and that it should be drafting this time of year to avoid extremely high flows when runoff begins. Therefore, this Saturday flows will be increased by 750cfs, and then increased again by 750cfs the following day or so. The exact times will be posted on the bighornriver.org website as soon as they are released.

Flows to take a bigger jump!

Despite the cool weather, flows are taking another big jump. This just arrived from Reclamation: In response to reservoir inflows and further increases in mountain snowpack over the past weekend, and consistent with the provisions of the Draft Yellowtail Operating Criteria, Reclamation will be increasing releases to the Bighorn River later this week from the current rate of 3,750 cubic feet per second to approximately 4,750 cubic feet per second. Additional adjustments in releases throughout the upcoming weeks are probable as the runoff picture continues to develop Once the day and time is announced for the increase, it will be posted here.

Afterbay and Three Mile to be closed with shutdown

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Park Rangers are advising visitors that the Afterbay and Three Mile access sites will be closed at midnight tonight should a government shutdown occur.Entrances to the two access sites will be posted and barricaded, and two rangers will be on duty to handle law enforcement duties. Oddly, two maintenance personnel will also be considered essential personnel and will be on duty.Efforts are underway to petition the Park Service to duplicate the efforts during the 1995 shutdown, where just the pit toilets were closed but the access site remained open.

Flows to take a bigger jump to 3,750cfs

We don’t normally receive emails from the Bureau of Reclamation in the evening, but this one from Area Manager Dan Jewell just arrived a few minutes ago: In response to reservoir inflows and further increases in mountain snowpack, and consistent with the provisions of the Draft Yellowtail Operating Criteria, Reclamation will be increasing releases to the Bighorn River on Friday, April 8 from the current rate of 3,250 cubic feet per second to approximately 3,750 cubic feet per second.Additional adjustments in releases throughout the upcoming weeks are probable as the runoff picture continues to develop. The email was not accompanied by a water order change, so the time of the flow increase tomorrow is not certain. On another note, if you own an Android or iPhone, you can now monitor real-time river releases, lake elevations, snowpack information and much more using just your cell phone. From the Android Market or iTunes App Store, search for Bighorn River and download the app free of charge.