Snowpack/runoff news: Nolan Doesken — ‘But it has been more typical than typical’


From (Jeff Thomas):

Mike Gillespie, the state’s snow survey supervisor, said a number of survey sites in northern Colorado reported record breaking snowpack, but even more amazing was how long the snowpack has held.

“We had snowfall occurring about a month later than usual (into late June),” said Gillespie. Subsequently, the runoff, which normally tapers off in July, has lasted into August.

The Tower snow survey location, located on the Continental Divide on Buffalo Pass between Walden and Steamboat Springs, is normally the snowiest in the state and had a record year of about 80 inches of moisture content. Some of the more than 20 feet of snow that had accumulated was still there in the beginning of August, more than a month after a normal melt-out date.

Much of this was predictable, said Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, though in actuality it may have been difficult to believe how predictable it actually was this year.

The winter storms that blasted northern Colorado—and even the southern mountains had average years—are expected during a La Nina year, a periodic climate fluctuation marked by a cooling of tropical Pacific Ocean water.

“But it has been more typical than typical,” Doesken said. “You usually expect some variance (in the storm paths), but except for an early winter storm (that slipped on a more southerly track), there’s been no variance.”

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