Snowpack News

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Bump and update From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Despite dry conditions during January, snowpack totals throughout the Arkansas River watershed remained near average at 103 percent by Feb. 1…

Since December, snowpack in the southern mountains of the Arkansas River basin have remained at about 60 percent of average, while the Upper Arkansas snowpack declined by 21 percent. The Brumley snowpack telemetry or SNOTEL operated by the conservation service recorded the best snowpack percentage in the basin at 155 percent of average and 161 percent of the February 2010 reading. The Fremont Pass SNOTEL reported the deepest snowpack in the area at 54 inches with a water content of 13.4 inches. The Trout Creek Pass station recorded the least amount of snow with 8 inches – equivalent to 1.3 inches of water. Statewide, Colorado snowpack reduced during January from 136 percent of average to 117 percent. The east side of the Sangre de Cristo Range recorded the lowest Feb. 1 snowpack since 2006. Cucharas and Huerfano sub-basins are at 60 percent of average, and the Purgatoire basin is at 64 percent.

Stream flow forecasts based on snowpack predict good flow in the Upper Arkansas Valley with Chalk Creek forecast at 130 percent of average at Nathrop and the Arkansas River at Salida predicted to carry 111 percent of average volume. Water storage at 13 major Arkansas Valley reservoirs is 91 percent of average, matching the Feb. 1, 2010 percentage. Lowest snowpack percentage is 80 percent of average in the Rio Grande basin. Combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins are reported at 106 percent of average. Lowest stream flow forecasts in Colorado are for streams originating in the Sangre de Cristos where volume is expected to be 40-80 percent of average. Flow on the Rio Grande and San Juan rivers is predicted below average for 2011.

Gunnison basin snowpack is 126 percent of average, and the Colorado River and North Platte basin snowpack totals exceed 130 percent of average.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 111 percent to 170 percent of the 30-year average (1971-2001). Last-year snowpack at this time was only about 65 percent of average. “We’re just lucky this year,” said Mark Volt of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office…

Snow density is averaging 25 percent, which means that for a foot of snow, there are 3 inches of water. “This is pretty dense snow for this time of year,” Volt said.

From the Leadville Herald-Democrat:

According to the latest snow surveys, conducted by the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado’s statewide snowpack decreased from 136 percent of average on Jan. 1 to 117 percent of average on Feb. 1. Decreases in snowpack percentages were measured in all of the major river basins of the state, according to Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS. While this year’s snowpack is considerably better than last year at this time, the current statewide percentage ties that measured on this date back in 2009. Those basins across southwestern Colorado experienced the driest conditions during January, recording only about one quarter of their normal precipitation for the month. Snowpack percentages decreased by 38 percentage points in the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins, declining from 144 percent of average on Jan. 1, to 106 percent of average on Feb. 1. Similar decreases were also measured in the Gunnison Basin, decreasing from 158 percent of average a month ago, to only 125 percent of average…

Even after experiencing a dry January, the current snowpack remains well ahead of that measured a year ago at this time. With the exception of southwestern Colorado, the 2011 readings are consistently well-above those of last year. Statewide totals are currently tracking at 137 percent of those from a year ago.

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