Snowpack news

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Update: From The Mountain Mail (Sue Price):

The March 1 survey conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows overall snowpack at 88 percent of average. The increase is stronger in the Arkansas River Basin, up 6 percent, for a total of 95 percent of average. Porphyry Creek, near Monarch Pass, jumped to 96 percent of average from 78 percent Feb. 1. Fremont Pass remained steady at 80 percent of average, while Brumley is at a season high of 104 percent of average…

Percentages in the 72-79 percent range in the Colorado, Yampa, White and North Platte river basins in northern Colorado are the lowest since the 2002 drought year, Green said.

Update: From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The latest surveys show Colorado’s snowpack well-below average, with only a slight increase last month. Water suppliers are anticipating weak runoff in the Colorado, Yampa and Platte river basins…

Overall, statewide snowpack is the lowest since the drought year of 2002. The probability of snowpack improving to near average by the end of winter is less than 10 percent, officials said.

Update: From The Denver Post:

Most of Colorado’s reservoirs are in the mountains. If normal weather continues the next two months, Denver Water’s reservoirs should fill up with the spring runoff, spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said…

February was 4 degrees colder than average and collected a half-inch less than the average of snowfall of 6.3 inches, according to weather records.

From (James Joliat):

This year’s snowpack continues to lag well behind last years at this time, with the March 1 readings only 82 percent of last years totals on this date, according to Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS. Another trend in this year’s snowpack pack data is the variability across the state that has been driven by the 2010 El Niño storm track which has favored the southwestern U.S…

At this time, only two basins in the state are tracking at above average levels. Those include the Rio Grande, at 109 percent of average, and the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores, and San Miguel at 106 percent of average.

Other nearby basins, which are tracking at just slightly below average, include the Gunnison and the Arkansas, both at 95 percent of average.

Across northern Colorado, snowpack percentages remain well below average, having not tracked at these percentages since the drought year of 2002. Those basins include the Colorado, Yampa and White, and the North Platte. These basins, along with the South Platte, range from 72 to 79 percent of average.

From The Aspen Times:

The statewide snowpack increased to 88 percent of average on March 1 from 86 percent on Feb. 1, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The statewide average is only 82 percent of last year’s total at the same time…

The local snowpack is 90 percent of the 30-year average measured between 1971 and 2000. It varies drastically in different parts of the basin. The conservation service’s Independence Pass site, east of Aspen, showed a snowpack Wednesday that is 96 percent of average. Three sites in the Fryingpan Valley show drastic differences, based on elevation. The site at Ivanhoe Lake, more than 10,000 feet in elevation, showed a snowpack of 97 percent. Lower in the valley it’s only 73 percent of average at the Kiln site and 71 percent of average at Nast Lake. The snowpack is more consistent in the Crystal Valley: 94 percent of average at Schofield Pass; 92 percent at McClure Pass; and 87 percent at North Lost Trail outside of Marble…

Northern Colorado basins have their lowest snowpack levels since the 2002 drought, the agency said. Water users depending on sources in the Colorado, Yampa and White, and the North Platte basins should be prepared for significantly less water than in the last two years.

From the Pikes Peak Courier:

The Woodland Park office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that snow pack measurements for March 1 readings at seven local snow courses were slightly above normal. These snow courses on the South Platte and Arkansas river watersheds measured 119 percent of the depth and 88 percent of the snow water content compared to the 30-year long term average…

The Pikes Peak watershed, based on data from the Colorado Springs Water Resources Department, had 116 percent of the Long Term Average snow depth on the North Slope and 122 percent of the Long Term Average on the South Slope.

From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Statewide, February’s snowpack is at 88 percent of the long-term average, up slightly from 86 percent in January. Water content of the snowpack in the northern mountains hasn’t been this low since the drought of 2002, said state conservationist Allen Green. Officials estimate there is less than a 10 percent chance that water availability will improve to near average in those basins by the end of the snowpack accumulation season in mid-April.

From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen):

“Normally by this time of year we would have gotten 101 inches, and we’ve gotten 80,” said National Weather Service observer Rick Bly, who records snow amounts in the town of Breckenridge. He said much of this season’s snow fell in October and quickly melted. November through February amounts were about 64 percent of average. February’s snowfall total in Breckenridge was 20.4, down from the average of 23.5 inches. January’s total was 14 inches compared with an average of 22.4 inches. “We’re below average and that’s not good,” Bly said. “Hopefully March will make up for it; March is kind of an unusual month.”[…]

The local snowpack continues to lag well below normal, with the Colorado River Basin at 79 percent of average relative to a statewide average of 88 percent…

However, the past couple years of high runoff have helped fill reservoirs in basins which have received less snowfall this year — leaving them with higher-than-average storage levels, according to the press release. “That helps for the water users below those reservoirs,” Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor with NRCS said in a phone interview, adding that irrigators along small streams and tributaries may “see pretty low water availability, especially late this summer.” The level of Dillon Reservoir is 107 percent of what it was this time last year.

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