Snowpack news: The South Platte basin is at 93% of the thirty year average, statewide — 84%

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It’s been good snowboarding weather. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for yesterday’s snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From The Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

“If you look where the statewide snowpack totals are right now, we are where we typically should be on February first. As snowpack levels go, we are kind of a month behind,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey Supervisor Mage Skordahl on Monday. “Currently we are at 77 percent average statewide, which is an improvement from 72 percent at the beginning of February. The percent of average snowfall needed next month (to get to 100 percent average) is 178 percent of average. We are still playing catch-up.”

After a high pressure ridge kept most of Colorado relatively dry in December and for the first part of January, the Pacific jet stream finally shifted southward and positioned itself over southern Wyoming and northern and Central Colorado, bringing precipitation to basins to the west of the Continental Divide. Relatively speaking, Colorado’s southern mountains had a better start to the winter than the central and northern Mountains. But as a typical La Nina precipitation and snowfall pattern returned to Colorado in January, the southern basins saw a significant decrease in precipitation.

That trend didn’t last long though, as February, which is typically a drier month, proved to be a snowy month statewide, including the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins.

“The storm tracks changed and dropped lower at the end of January and the first part of February,” Skordahl said. “It was very good news for those basins. As of today, we are at 77 percent of average. That’s a four-point percentage improvement from the beginning of February. That increase occurred in most basins across the state.”

In February, the Gunnison River Basin saw an increase in snowpack from 72 to 74 percent, the Upper Colorado River Basin jumped from 69 to 85 percent, and the Arkansas River Basin increased from 81 to 84 percent.

From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

Norris said talk of Vail Mountain intentionally inflating its snow reports is ridiculous. “People say marketing does it to drive their skier numbers — well that’s crap, I’m sorry,” Norris said. “Reporting 12 inches when we’ve got 2 — nobody in their right mind would do that on purpose. … We want to be as accurate as we possibly can.”[…]

Vail Mountain has been doing its snow reporting via video cameras since the 1998-99 season, just after radical environmentalists burned down the Two Elk restaurant while also damaging nearby chairlifts and the Patrol Headquarters apartment. A ski patroller used to sleep in that apartment and was responsible for measuring snowfall manually, but the fires changed that, Norris said. Because Vail Mountain was installing cameras all over the mountain for security purposes following the arson attack, the resort decided to install a camera for the purposes of measuring snow. The camera readings worked, and the communications center has been doing that morning snow report ever since, Norris said.

From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

Ninety-three inches of snow fell at the ski area’s midmountain measuring site last month, which benefited from the extra Leap Year day. The 20-year average for February snowfall at midmountain is 67.9 inches. The ski area summit received 108.75 inches of snow in February. In the city of Steamboat Springs, a measuring site off Anglers Drive recorded 57.6 inches of snow last month, according to local weather observer Art Judson. The city’s historic average for February is 29.6 inches. Snow fell on the slopes of Mount Werner on 17 of the 29 days in February, and 13 of those days recorded 4 inches or more. As of the end of the day Feb. 29, the ski area had received a total of 203 inches of snow at midmountain this season. The 10-year season snowfall average at Mount Werner is 354 inches.

From The Aspen Times:

The city recorded 23.51 inches of snow last month at the water plant, at an elevation of 8,161 feet. The average for February is 25.55 inches, but the record, recorded in February 1936, is 79 inches.

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