Great input JFRC! I try to always make it known when replying to a majority of these "water data" posts that I am NOT an expert by any means...I do learn quite a bit, which is a plus. However....with your input, wouldn't the affected reservoirs above Powell, such as Blue Mesa and Navajo, effect what the runoff will REALLY be? Meaning, since they have been dramatically impacted these last few years, maybe they allow those to recover a little which could impact flow into Powell? Just a thought.Well, it's hard to tell at this point from the inflow/outflow data what we can really expect in the coming weeks. The average "hit bottom" date historically is April 22, but that date has a huge variation, and it's hard to draw conclusions from that date as to what might happen ahead. This year, with outflows being held back a bit compared to recent years, it might be that the turnaround date does come a bit early. Last year, it wasn't until late May. The year before, it was early May. Same with 2018. All three were bad runoff years. The trend, in general, for the "better than average" years is when the lake starts turning around by mid-April. That was the case for 2011, 2014 and 2019. But who knows?
I'd watch the inflows closely. Right now they are still hovering in the 6-8,000 cfs range. Historically on average, by early April those flows are closer to 10,000 cfs. Last year we were still in the 4-6,000 cfs range at this point, so I'm thinking we're going to do better than that. But actually, with the exception of the really wet years of 2011 and 2017, we're really in the same inflow ballpark as almost every other year back to 2009. Let's look at the data in another week or two and reassess then.
Here's what I'm looking for--what is the first date that inflow hits 30,000 cfs? That's the marker of what kind of rise we can really expect. Most years (all but 11) have reached that milestone, and usually by the end of May. But if we don't hit that (as we didn't last year), it's a bad year. In a "slightly better than average" year where total annual inflow is in the 9-9.5 maf (like 2014-16), look for the 30K cfs inflow milestone to be reached in mid- to late May.
And then in the better years, we'll hit a 50K cfs milestone, usually in late May or early June. Historically, it's about a 50-50 chance in any given year of hitting 50k cfs...but when it does, it's always a sign of a good year. The last year that happened was in 2019, when runoff peaked at 78k cfs on June 18.
Again, it's still a little too early to tell what to expect...