Bureau of Reclamation predicts full water supply for North Platte Basin

May 25, 2019 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — The Bureau of Reclamation forecasts for the North Platte River Basin indicate that there will be a full water supply for the growing year.

The Wyoming Area Office in Mills said in its May 10 snowmelt runoff forecast for the North Platte River Basin that runoff for the spring will be above average. Total April through July runoff in the North Platte River Basin above Glendo Dam is expected to be 1,004,000 acre-feet (ae-ft), which is 111% of the 30-year average. Approximately 228,500 ae-ft of the forecast volume was accumulated during April, which is 151% of the April average.


“Based on this month’s projection of above-average runoff, we expect the North Platte Basin water contractors will have a full water supply this year,” Wyoming Area Manager Carlie Ronca said in the news release.

As of April 30, storage content in the North Platte Reservoirs amounts to 1,822,745 ae-ft, which is 110% of the 30-year average. The total conservation storage capacity of the North Platte Reservoir System is approximately 2.8 million ae-ft.

Based on current projections for the months of May, June and July, the releases out of Seminoe Reservoir are not expected to exceed 3,000 cfs, while flows out of Gray Reef are expected to be in the range of approximately 500 to 2,500 cfs. Releases from Guernsey will be in the 2,900 to 5,200 cfs range. Pathfinder Reservoir is not expected to spill this spring.

The levels of area reservoirs as of Wednesday, May 22, are as follows:

• Glendo Reservoir — 94.8% full (490,584 ae-ft)

• Guernsey Reservoir — 61% full (27,828 ae-ft)

• Lake Minatare Reservoir — 79.9% full (46,987 ae-ft)

• Box Butte Reservoir — 80.3% full (23,403 ae-ft)

• Winters Creek Reservoir — 41.3% full (1,273 ae-ft)

• Lake Alice Reservoir — 49.4% full (5,446 ae-ft)

• Little Lake Alice Reservoir — 30.7% full (358 ae-ft)

NRCS SNOTEL data on Thursday, May 23, showed precipitation for the Upper North Platte Basin at 111%, 140% of the Basin index. The Lower North Platte Basin at 104% of the average year-to-date precipitation, with no Basin Index available.

Crop Progress

USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) reported that there were five days suitable for fieldwork in Nebraska for the week ending May 19, with the bulk of the favorable weather seen in the eastern half of Nebraska. Wyoming had 4.2 suitable days, up from 3.1 days the previous week. Weather for Memorial Day weekend is set to get up in to the 70s on Sunday, with a return to cold, rainy weather on Monday and Tuesday.


Topsoil moisture supplies in Nebraska last week rated 0% very short, 5 short, 80 adequate, and 15 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0% very short, 4 short, 81 adequate, and 15 surplus.

Topsoil moisture in Wyoming was 0% very short, 12 short, 78 adequate, 10 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies in Wyoming rated 1% very short, 11 short, 84 adequate, 4 surplus.

Nebraska corn planted was at 70%, behind 86 both last year and for the five-year average. Emerged was 27%, well behind 49 both last year and average. Wyoming corn was at 66% planted, up from 39 the previous week, and up from 64% in the five-year average. Wyoming corn emerged was 15%, up 3% from previous week, but down from 31% in 2018, and 22% in the five-year average. The average of the top 18 corn producing states was 49% planted, down from 80% in the five-year average. Emergence for the top 18 states was at 19%, down from 49% in the five-year average. Indiana and Illinois were still in the teens with percentages planted.

Nebraska winter wheat condition rated 1% very poor, 4 poor, 26 fair, 57 good and 12 excellent. Nebraska winter wheat headed was 8%, near 4 last year, but behind 27 average. Wyoming winter wheat rated 4% very poor, 7 poor, 37 fair, 48 good and 4 excellent.

Pasture and range conditions for Nebraska rated 1% very poor, 2 poor, 19 fair, 68 good and 10 excellent. Pasture in range for Wyoming rated 1% very poor, 1 poor, 29 fair, 66 good and 3 excellent.

Irrigation water supplies across Wyoming were rated 6% fair, 90% good, and 4% excellent. Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 5% short, 87% adequate and 8% surplus.