Snowpack news: Statewide snowpack drops to 65% of average, South Platte = 69%, Colorado = 61%, San Juan/Dolores/San Miguel = 69%


Last week I told the CWCB’s Water Availability Task Force that I thought Standley Lake would fill this runoff season, “barring a snowpack disaster.” This week I’m not so confident. I’m eagerly awaiting the April 1 Basin Outlook Report from the NRCS to look at their streamflow forecast for Clear Creek. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the current snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

Winter was late to arrive in the Colorado mountains, and it’s apparently making an early exit, boosting tan lines but creasing the brows of those who watch the state’s snowpack with an eye toward summer water availability and fire danger.

Twenty percent of Colorado’s annual snowpack typically accumulates in March, according to Mage Skordahl, assistant snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver. The state typically hits its snowpack peak in early to mid-April. Instead, the snowpack has been eroding. Statewide, the snowpack stood at 81 percent of average at the start of March and had dropped to 71 percent of average by Friday, Skordahl said. The Roaring Fork Basin was looking good by comparison, at 78 percent of average on Monday. “That’s good,” Skordahl said. “It hasn’t melted out as much as it looks like from down low.

Still, the snow-measuring site at 10,600 feet on Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, dropped from 40 inches of snow on March 20 to 34 inches by Monday. And the high temperature at the high-elevation site hit nearly 56 degrees on Friday. It was much the same story at other measuring stations around the basin. On McClure Pass south of Carbondale, for example, the snowpack dropped from 34 inches on March 20 to 27 inches on Monday, and Sunday’s high at the site was 61 degrees. The McClure station is at 9,500 feet…

It’s too early to say whether [drought] conditions are on the horizon, but it’s on the minds of those who contemplate such things. “We’re starting to whisper it, but it’s not official,” [Paul Frisbie, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction] said.

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