Snowpack news

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Scott Condon):

Aspen appears to have set a record with 36.35 inches of snow for April, barely eclipsing the old mark of 36 inches in 1970, according to Charlie Bailey, water treatment supervisor with the Aspen Water Department. The water department tracks Aspen’s precipitation for the National Weather Service. The report hasn’t been filed out for April yet, so the numbers are unofficial, Bailey said…

Even so, the Aspen area snowpack remained below average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack for the Roaring Fork basin was 74 percent of the 30-year average on Tuesday afternoon. At the agency’s Independence site east of Aspen, the snowpack was 83 percent of average. In the Fryingpan Valley, the snowpack ranged from a high of 98 percent at Ivanhoe to a low of 0 percent at Nast. Ivanhoe is the highest snow measuring station in the Fryingpan Valley and Nast is the lowest. In the Crystal drainage, the snowpack was at 80 percent at Schofield Pass and 62 percent at McClure Pass. The conservation service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported that snowpack was below average in all of the major river basins in Colorado on May 1 — despite cold and snowy weather over the last half of April. “For the most part, any gains we saw during the last week of April were far surpassed by the melt we saw earlier in the month,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS. Colorado’s statewide snowpack decreased to the lowest reading of the season on May 1 at only 78 percent of average.

From the Grand Junction Free Press (John Gardner):

However, [Bryon Lawrence, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Grand Junction] is not too excited about the spring runoff season this year due to a lack of snow accumulation this winter. He said that this year is shaping up to be a “mediocre” runoff year at best. “The snowpack has been considerably below normal,” he said. “And we are not expecting a really good runoff this year.”[…]

According to the National Weather Service, The Colorado River peaked on May 21 in 2009, running at 10,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) at Dotsero. The average peak runoff for the Colorado River at Dotsero is 9,425 cfs. The weather service predicts the peak runoff to be well below the 2009 levels, at only 4,500 cfs this year at the same location. “That is less than half of normal,” Lawrence said. He also expected the peak runoff not to occur until the end of May, or even as late as June 20. However, that is the typical time frame for the runoff to occur, he said. The National Water Information System real-time water flows used by the United States Geological Survey reported the Colorado River near Dotsero at 1,360 cfs on Monday. In comparison, this year the Roaring Fork River Basin is currently at 95 percent of average for precipitation. The Roaring Fork River’s peak flow is expected to be about 4,200 cfs, just 300 cfs less than experts are expecting for the Colorado River. However, that is still well below the average peak runoff of 6,150 for the Roaring Fork River.

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