Snowpack news: Gunnison Basin at 93%

A picture named coloradosnowpack02092010

From the Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

The Montrose area is sitting at around 80 percent of normal snowpack, as storm after storm gave us a miss this winter, instead socking it to locations to the south. Information from the National Weather Service’s Colorado River Basin Forecast Center shows that, because of “below average seasonal precipitation,” the April through July streamflow volume forecasts are also below average for the Lower Gunnison Basin. “We’re not as dry as we could be. We’re not as wet as we want to be,” said Marc Catlin, manager for the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. “There is enough snow (in the basin) to raise a crop, but it’s really the type of spring season and the snowmelt. If nature will help us, it could be pretty much a normal year.”[…]

The district manages Ridgway Reservoir. Berry said that 80 percent of normal snowpack for the reservoir gives it around 80,000 acre feet of water. “We only have about 15,000 acre feet to fill the reservoir. If it quit snowing today, we could be down significantly by the first of May, when the real demand starts for irrigators out there.” he said. “But, I’m confident we can fill the reservoir, given an 80-percent snowpack.”

A warm spring (particularly warm nighttime temperatures), wind, and dust can quickly reduce even a large snowpack. So far this winter, it’s been quite cold in the area, and those temperatures “froze the snow down tight,” Catlin said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Loretta Sword):

“It’s not sloppy wet, but there’s a fair amount of moisture to go with this one,” said meteorologist Randy Gray of Pueblo’s National Weather Service office, adding that scant accumulations contained about three times the average measurable precipitation as most snowfalls this time of year. In the Rocky Mountain region, Gray said, it typically takes 20-30 inches of snowfall to produce an inch of water, but the storm that settled in Sunday and hung around through most of Monday produced a snow-to-water ratio of 10 to 1. “Sometimes, depending on other conditions and the time of year, even if it’s cold, the moisture has a way of coming out of the snow before it can pile up,” Gray said. “That’s what happened with this one.” Although it wasn’t a huge storm, it likely brought enough moisture to meet or top the average for all of February, which is 3.6 inches of snow containing 0.26 inches of water…

The Monarch Pass area was hit the hardest with snowfall overnight Sunday where Maysville residents reported 5 inches of new snow…

Up to 8 inches of snow fell in the foothills along the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Update: From The Denver Post (Yesnia Robles):

The snowstorm that started over the weekend brought about 4 inches of snow to the metro area but less than half an inch of moisture. National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners said moisture in the snow is determined by temperature. When the air mass is cold, he said, the snow doesn’t hold as much moisture…

Mike Gillespie, snow-survey supervisor with the NRCS, said playing catch-up [on the Colorado snowpack] will likely require more than 30 inches of snow each month for the next 2 1/2 months.

Update: From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Snowfall began Sunday morning, tapering off midmorning. The area saw precipitation begin again in earnest late Sunday afternoon, continuing into the evening. Monday morning found Cortez and the surrounding area under a blanket of heavy, wet snow. “Out of this storm we got 8.1 inches of snow,” said local weather observer Jim Andrus…

Southwest Colorado has seen a number of storm systems move through the area this winter, all of which have produced measurable amounts of snow. “Our total snowfall for this winter is now 46.9 inches – almost four feet,” Andrus said. “We’ve had 63 days in a row of measurable snowfall on the ground. That is the longest stretch I’ve ever been able to report. From Dec. 8 through (Monday) morning.”[…]

“Our precipitation total for February is really impressive,” Andrus said. “We have .98 inches (of precipitation), and normal for the entire month is .95 (inches). So, we are 103 percent of normal for February already after only the first week of the month. “Total precipitation for the year has been 2.76 inches; normal through the end of February is 1.96 inches so that is already 141 percent of normal. It has been a really wet winter.”

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