Snowpack/Drought news: (% of normal): South Platte =142%, Upper Rio Grande = 83% #COdrought

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Despite recent moisture, Southern Colorado still is struggling with the impacts of prolonged drought. Clouds of dust continue to roll across the prairies, bringing piles of tumbleweeds with them. Miles of roads are lined with the weeds and sometimes clogged by them.

“We’ve had 45 miles of roads impacted by tumbleweeds, and have even had to keep some closed when they became impassable,” said Crowley County Commissioner Frank Grant.

Crowley County has spent at least $75,000, used snowplows and purchased a forage chopper to clear roads since late October when the tumbleweeds began appearing.

“It’s a lot like herding balloons. You push them off, and they keep coming back,” Grant said. “Pueblo County road crews have been hitting it hard, too.”

Area soil conservation districts have applied for grants to purchase equipment. Canal companies are dealing with miles of tumbleweeds plugging up ditches in prepara­tion for water that will begin flowing in less than a month. And some homeowners in rural areas have had trouble reaching or leaving their homes.

“Every time the wind blows, you see them pile up,” said J.D. Wright, who lives in eastern Pueblo County on the Crowley County line about 15 miles north of Colorado 96. “This is a very serious situation. It’s nobody’s fault, just a matter of dealing with the tumbleweeds.”

The weeds have damaged rangeland because they break off more beneficial grasses as they roll across the ground.

“The sandhills in the Hanover-Boone area that have been stable for the last 50 years are beginning to blow,” Wright said.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

After 3.1 inches of fresh snow was recorded in town Thursday morning, the snowfall total for October 2013 through February to date was 165.6 inches, according to the regional climate center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That compares to the full-season average (1981 through 2011) of 169.7 inches. And there’s likely more on the way…

Season-long snowfall in town always is significantly lower than it is at midmountain at Steamboat Ski Area. And this winter is no different, with the ski area reporting 279 inches for the season thus far…

Monthly snowfall in the city of Steamboat consistently has been above average this fall and winter, with 16.8 inches in October, 27.9 inches in November, 38.3 inches in December, 52.2 inches in January and 30.4 inches as of Thursday for February.

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