Forecast/snowpack news: ‘Significant Winter Storm brings widespread snow and strong winds through Saturday’ — NWS #COdrought #COwx


From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction put the possibility of snow Friday at 80 percent and 50 percent Friday night, with 1 to 2 inches of new snow possible. The chance for snow on Saturday tapers off quickly…

Snow accumulation on Lizard Head Pass on Colorado Highway 145 south of Telluride is expected to be 3 to 5 inches, Shanks said…

The state’s water-supply outlook for this month, prepared by the National Resources Conservation Service, shows the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel basins, which began December with a snowpack 37 percent of normal, bounced back with the help of several late-month storms. The late-month storms brought December’s precipitation to 105 percent of average for the month.

The accumulation brought the region’s four basins back to 70 percent of normal on Jan. 1.

Reservoir storage in the four basins stood at 106 percent of normal at the end of May, but fell to 66 percent of average on Dec. 31. Total current reservoir storage in the region is 248,000 acre-feet, compared with 400,000 acre-feet at the same time last year…

The state as a whole fared slightly better than Southwest Colorado. The collective snowpack on Jan. 1 stood at 91 percent of the same date in 2012. The Jan. 1, 2013, level replaced last year as the fourth lowest in the last 32 years.

From The Crested Butte News (Alissa Johnson):

According to Griffith, the [cloud-seeding] program started in the middle of November this year but didn’t begin seeding until December. So far, six storms have been seeded. The burners’ yellow flames, including one that can be seen near Three Rivers Resort in Almont, burn a mixture of sodium and silver iodide into the lower layers of clouds. That silver iodide can cause water droplets to turn to snow at warmer temperatures than they otherwise would.

[North American Weather Consultants] estimates that they boost winter storms by about 10 percent to 15 percent. Last August, prior to the program’s permit renewal, Griffith reminded the Gunnison County commissioners that while effective, cloud seeding is not a silver bullet that can reverse drought conditions like the county saw last year.

“If you’re going to have 50 percent of snowfall naturally, and you get a 10 percent increase from cloud seeding, that would still result in a snowpack 55 percent of average,” Griffith explained. “There’s still a drought—it’s just going to be a little less dry than it would be naturally.”

The total cost of the program is right around $95,000 per year, and NAWC estimates that produces additional water to the tune of about $1 per acre-foot. Matching funds from the state bolster local contributions to reach the full amount.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Heather McGregor):

Remote snowpack telemetry sites in the upper Fryingpan basin and on Independence Pass show the worst readings. Nast Lake, at 8,700 feet in the upper Fryingpan, has just 11 inches of snow holding 1.1 inches of water, just 30 percent of normal for Jan. 9. The Kiln telemetry site, also in the Fryingpan basin, at 9,600 feet has 16 inches of snow holding 2.5 inches of water, just 42 percent of normal. And the Independence Pass telemetry site at 10,600 feet has all of 19 inches of snow holding 3.2 inches of water, just 39 percent of normal. The deepest snow in the whole Roaring Fork River basin is at Schofield Pass above Marble. Even there, the remote telemetry equipment recorded 39 inches of snow holding 10.3 inches of water, 66 percent of average…

“Last December, the soil moisture was in good shape, and everything was above average because we were coming off a good year,” Nielson said. “This year, it’s much below average, below 50 percent of normal in a lot of areas, because we are coming off a really dry year…

Snowstorms that swept across the state in December pushed Colorado’s snowpack up from very low levels, said Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist for the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Leave a Reply