Snowpack news

A picture named nrcssnowpack01052010

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

“We’re in the ballpark. Last year, we were really good early on and then it fell off, so we’ll see what happens,” John Fusaro said. On average, about 40 percent of the snowfall the state receives each season falls by Jan. 1.

Fusaro, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service in Fort Collins, said that office will begin conducting physical measurements of the snowpack in the Poudre and Big Thompson canyons of northern Colorado at the end of the month. Those measurements will be taken monthly through the end of April. Data from those monthly surveys allows hydrologists to predict the amount of runoff when the snow melt occurs in the spring. Water users, including those involved in agriculture, industry and municipalities, use that information for planning…

According to automated SNOTEL sites in the mountains, the snowpack ranges from a high of 91 percent of the long-term average in the southwestern part of the state to a low of 78 percent in northwest Colorado. The South Platte River basin was at 89 percent of average as of Tuesday, while the upper Colorado River basin was at 79 percent. Northern Colorado gets water from those river basins and their tributaries. “This year, most of our snow has come from upslope conditions, so the mountains haven’t been getting the snow we’ve seen down here,” Fusaro said. Through Tuesday, Greeley had recorded more than 39 inches of snow this season, which is about 2 inches more than Greeley averages during the winter season…

For the most part, state officials said, reservoir storage across Colorado is in good shape, with near average volumes in storage across most of the state. Only those basins in the southwest part of the state are reporting below normal volumes.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The year 2009 was the sixth snowiest and the seventh wettest calendar year in 121 years of recordkeeping in Fort Collins, according to Colorado Climate Center statistics. The city’s weather station on the main CSU campus received 79.5 inches of snow last year – 20.7 inches more than normal. Likewise, the weather station received 21.88 inches of rainfall last year, or 6.04 inches more than normal…

Last month also proved to be the city’s 12th wettest and fifth snowiest December on record. The city received 1.11 inches of wet precipitation and 20.3 inches of snow – 11.8 inches above average.

From The Denver Post (Michael Booth):

The accumulation is the lowest statewide since 2003, when the number hit 85 percent of average, according to Mike Gillespie of the Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey.
Readings are below average in the catchments for all the major rivers, with southwest Colorado enjoying the best totals. The San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel river basins caught the greater part of Colorado’s December storms and are at 97 percent of normal…

“Given the cold conditions we’ve had down here in Denver, the perception might be the snowpack is doing pretty well in the high country,” Gillespie said. “The fact is, we’re down below the long-term average, and it’s been a long time since we’ve had such a dry start to the winter.” The few December snowfalls in the central mountains and Front Range didn’t pack the wallop of holiday snows in the past couple of years. Colorado will now need snowfalls of 110 percent of the average to get back to normal by the end of the snow season in the spring.

Reservoir water storage remains good after a few years of catch-up. The South Platte River basin, which supplies much of Denver’s water, is at 93 percent of its snowpack average but reports reservoir storage at 100 percent of the average.

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