Snowpack news: Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin current SWE as a percent of average peak = 90% #COdrought

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Greg Ruland):

Jeff Colton, a National Weather Service meteorologist, predicted Grand Junction will get warmer still, reaching 50 degrees by the weekend. But temperature really isn’t the story.

Water is the story. It rained and snowed so much in recent days that storms pushed precipitation counts to well above normal for the area, Colton said.

“We’re already over an inch for the year,” he said. “It looks like we’re almost a half inch above normal.”

That hasn’t happened since 2011, Colton said.

Roughly three-tenths of an inch of precipitation fell in and around Grand Junction during the 24-hour period that ended at 4 p.m. Monday, Colton said.

For moisture, snow is much preferred in February, Colton said. The mountains store the snowpack, which melts over time as it is needed. Rainwater runs off too quickly before it can be fully utilized.

Up to 10 inches of heavy snow fell north of Powderhorn Mountain Resort, while 7 inches was reported four miles south of Collbran, the National Weather Service said. More than 5 feet of snow has fallen at Powderhorn since Jan. 31.

Snowpack is 120 percent of normal in some central mountain areas, meaning the state is holding its own this year when it comes to water supply, Colton said.

From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Snowpack in Colorado’s Arkansas River Basin currently stands at 115 percent of median with upper portions of the basin experiencing above-average snow depths while lower portions of the basin continue to languish in drought conditions. District hydrologist Jord Gertson provided the information as part of a report on basin snowpack and streamflow conditions during the monthly Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District meeting Thursday in Salida.

Gertson’s report also included an overview of U.S. National Resources Conservation Service snowpack telemetry, or SNOTEL, stations, which measure snow depth, cumulative precipitation and snow-water equivalent, providing the bulk of snowpack data available in Colorado.

Looking at individual SNOTEL sites around the basin, Gertson reported the snow-water equivalent is 133 percent of median at Fremont Pass, 162 percent at Brumley, 105 percent at South Colony and 57 percent at Whiskey Creek. Overall, the Arkansas Basin snowpack stands at 193 percent of numbers recorded for the same date in 2013, with Fremont Pass at 197 percent, Brumley at 309 percent, South Colony at 165 percent and Whiskey Creek at 75 percent.

As Gertson pointed out, snowpack in upper basin locations is already approaching median peaks for an average year with at least two months to potentially add to those totals.

Gertson said the abundant snowpack translates into promising streamflow forecasts for the upper basin. For example, the streamflow forecast for Chalk Creek is for 114 percent of average, which bodes well for water users of all stripes, especially agricultural users.

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