Snowpack news: Colorado River basin — 63 percent of average, Rio Grande basin — 95 percent of average

snowpackcolorado12292011

Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right to view the current snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Meanwhile Boulder snowfall is doing just fine. Here’s a report from Eric Metzler writing for the Boulder Daily Camera. From the article:

[A] Weak La Niña pattern, other oscillations mean more snow for Front Range, less for mountains…

Boulder has received more snow already this season than it did all last season and is well above average, despite this being another La Niña year in which many meteorologists expected similar patterns to prevail…

Boulder has received 53.4 inches of snow so far this season and 33.3 inches in December alone, according to meteorologist Matt Kelsch. In a typical year, Boulder will receive 34 inches by the end of December and 88.6 inches by the end of the snow season…

This year’s La Niña is weaker than last year’s, and weather patterns also are being affected by two other oscillations — the Arctic Oscillation and the Madden-Julian Oscillation — that are less predictable and that fluctuate more rapidly.

One of the effects has been to push storms to the south, with southeastern Colorado getting walloped by several blizzards already this year and New Mexico and Arizona seeing above-average snowfall, [Joel Gratz, of opensnow.com] said.

Kelsch said weather patterns in the Atlantic also have affected the west-to-east flow of storms coming in from the Pacific. Last year, storms sped through and dropped most of their moisture on the mountains, leaving only winds for the Front Range. This year, storms have moved more slowly, with counterclockwise winds that leave more snow on the eastern slopes, Kelsch said.

More coverage from John Ingold writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The first manual snow sampling of the season Thursday confirmed what automated sensors have been suggesting for weeks: that the water available in Colorado’s snowpack is about a quarter below average. Statewide, snowpack is 73 percent of normal. That ranks as the fourth-driest measurement in the last 30 years, according to the conservation service.

No year in the last three decades that has started this far below average has recovered to record normal snowpack by the start of spring, said Mike Gillespie, the snow survey supervisor for the service. “It’s pretty evident that this is one of the drier years,” Gillespie said. “It’s not looking like a good start at all to the year.”[…]

The snowpack measurements are closely watched by Colorado water managers, who use them to determine how much water will be available in the spring and summer. Gillespie said one bright note this year is that last season’s glut of snow kept reservoirs full throughout the summer and fall — providing water suppliers with extra cushion for a dry year.

One thought on “Snowpack news: Colorado River basin — 63 percent of average, Rio Grande basin — 95 percent of average

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