The Norwood area continues to be affected by drought conditions, and some precipitation the next few weeks could provide some much needed snowpack. That snowpack, the lifeblood of Wright’s Mesa, is a necessity for municipal water, irrigation for agriculture and livestock, and farming and gardening this summer and beyond.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction said Norwood is still in “exceptional drought” as it has been for many months, though drought has plagued Norwood for years. Currently, the area is sitting at 80 percent of normal snowpack.
“Which isn’t the best thing, but it could be much worse,” said Tom Renwick of the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service. “That surprised me a bit. It has gone up a bit the last few weeks, and a few systems have gone through.”
The outlook for the immediate future seems to be somewhat disappointing, he said. Experts like Renwick were expecting three big weather systems, or storms, to occur in the next week throughout Western Colorado. Renwick said the weather pattern now looks “really unfortunate.”
Two of the storms will not likely hit the Norwood area, since one is projected to drop south and hit New Mexico and Arizona. The other, he said, is supposed to head to the northern and central mountains in Colorado.
“It’s nothing like it was showing,” he told The Norwood Post on Monday.
Renwick said with forecasts, though, they can change. He said they could shift back into the local area possibly.
Still, a big storm is projected to roll through Norwood on Friday and continue through Saturday. Renwick said the conditions should be “decent,” and the models show considerable precipitation — “awesome for snowpack,” he added.
As far as a more comprehensive outlook goes, Renwick said the Climate Prediction Center shows that next month there are higher-than-above-normal chances to see increased precipitation.
He said the good news is that the weather pattern seems to be La Nina. That usually indicates that Colorado has a wetter spring.
“January was dry for the whole state,” he said. “(La Nina) seems to be happening. If we keep this trend going, maybe we will get to where we need to be — or closer.”
In 2018, Norwood experienced one of its worst years on record, with just above 10 inches of precipitation. Afterward 2019 saw more than 20 inches helped conditions some. Last year saw more of an average with approximately 16 inches. 2021 is on a trajectory closer to 2018, but not as extreme. This spring’s storms will be the deciding factor. At this point, 132 percent of normal snowpack is needed to reach the peak.
San Miguel County District 3 Commissioner Kris Holstrom said the snowpack issue is extremely important. She said it’s one that everyone involved in agriculture is concerned about. She said other groups, like those looking at housing, are also paying attention.
“It is crucial and on my mind all the time,” she said. “Norwood Water Commission has a meeting Tuesday night (yesterday). Farmers water, this coming Saturday.”