No Bighorn Basin reservoir will reach capacity in 2022

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No basin in Bighorn Basin is expected to reach capacity in 2022, which is not a promising sign for an already “abnormally dry” region.

The Bureau of Reclamation released its snowmelt forecast on Thursday, January 13. In the report, spring runoff from each river in the Bighorn Basin is calculated to determine how full the basin’s reservoirs will be this summer.

The bureau’s January forecast of expected April-July runoff for the Bighorn River basin is as follows:

Bighorn Lake

  • Bighorn Lake – Bighorn River From April to July, the inflow to Bighorn Lake is expected to be approximately 874,000 acre-feet (af), or 71% of the 30-year average of 1,228,500 af As of January 1, Bighorn Lake is 87% full. .

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

  • The April-July Shoshone River inflow to Buffalo Bill Reservoir is forecast at 600,000 af, or 81% of the 30-year average of 739,800 af As of January 1, Buffalo Bill is 60% full.

Boysen Reservoir

  • Wind River From April to July, the inflow to Boysen Reservoir is forecast at 550,000 af, or 91% of the 30-year average of 604,000 af As of January 1, Boysen Reservoir is 85% full.

Bull Lake Reservoir

  • From April to July, snowmelt runoff into Bull Lake Reservoir from Bull Lake Creek is expected to be 130,000 af, or 92% of the 30-year average of 142,000 af As of January 1, the reservoir Bull Lake is 58% full.

A tank is considered “full” when the elevation of the pool is at the top of the active conservation or joint-use pool. The percentage is based on the total tank volume below this level.

If these predictions were to come true, 2022 would be the second year in a row that Bighorn Basin reservoirs would fail to reach their 30-year average capacity. However, the good news is that every tank should be fuller in 2022 than in 2021.

Wyoming drought information and resources courtesy

Low reservoirs won’t do much for a region that ranges from abnormally dry to exceptionally dry.

The State of Wyoming maintains a Drought information and resource website. Each week, a map of drought conditions is produced jointly by several agencies: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

As of January 13, most of the state was either abnormally dry or experiencing exceptional drought – the most severe category of drought. Most of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks have been classified as exceptionally drought since Jan. 11.

WY SWE 01-13-22

Courtesy of Wyoming NRCS

However, the latest snowpack report from the Wyoming Natural Resources Conservation Service is more promising.

The WNRCS has released the latest statewide snowpack report for the Wyoming Basins. According to the report, every basin in Bighorn Basin is at or above median snowpack levels for that time of year.

Regardless of the report, it’s still too early to tell how much water will be available in the Bighorn Basin in 2022. But it looks like things will remain fairly dry this spring and summer.

Boysen Reservoir

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