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Parched US Southwest gets reprieve as snowmelt fills rivers

June 13, 2019
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This Tuesday, June 11, 2019, photo shows the raging waters in the Big Cottonwood Creek, near Salt Lake City. The summer's melting snowpack is creating rivers that are running high, fast and icy cold. The state's snowpack this winter was about 150 percent higher than the historical average and double the previous year, which was the driest on record dating back to 1874, said Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Large parts of the Salt Lake City metro area sits near the foothills of the towering Wasatch Range. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

DENVER (AP) — A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the southwestern U.S.

Enough snow fell last winter to delay a water shortage in the region, but the runoff is threatening to push some streams over their banks.

Much of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming had above-average snowfall. As it melts, an abundance of water is rushing into the Colorado River, the Rio Grande and other waterways.

It’s a big change after a desperately dry 2018.

Federal officials said last winter there was a better than 50% chance of a shortage in the Colorado River in 2020. That could have meant less water for Arizona, which has low-priority rights.

Officials now say the shortage might be put off until after 2021.

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Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.

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