Snowpack news: Last week’s storms boost snowpack, Arkansas Basin = 99% of avg., best in state

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From the Vail Daily:

Snow water equivalent

What does 1 inch of water look like in real snow?

“There are lots of rules of thumb people swear by,” said Diane Johnson of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District. “Mostly you’ll hear 10 inches or 12 inches of snow to 1 inch of snow water equivalent, but it’s always a matter of how much water content is in the snow. Super light, fluffy powder takes a lot of snow depth to equal 1 inch of water.”

Here’s how local snowpack is doing compared to the 30-year SWE average:

Vail Mountain: 44 percent of average

Copper Mountain: 90 percent of average

Fremont Pass: 116 percent of average

From The Aspen Times via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

Just when most people were starting to sweat about the lack of snow, the facet turned on. It snowed enough that Aspen Mountain will open five days ahead of schedule. The storm lasting from Thursday through Saturday dumped 21 to 28 inches on the slopes, according to Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. As a result, Aspen Mountain will open early for the second straight season and third time in the last five years. (It opened a day early in 2010 after a huge snowstorm followed dry conditions.)

The snowpack at Independence Pass went from 42 percent of average on Nov. 13 to 84 percent of average yesterday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s weather station east of Aspen.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Navigating slick streets over the weekend and watching green lawns re-emerge from a white blanket, many people might have thought the early winter weather of late unusual. It’s not. This is when it is supposed to snow.

“Considering the deficit we had coming into last week, it seemed like a lot, but we’re really right back at normal,” said Charles Kuster, who’s been watching the weather around his Leadville home for the past 30 years. “I’m looking for more snow at the end of this week.”

The polar front that moved into Colorado one week ago left anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow in most places in the Arkansas River basin, while a second storm moved through late Saturday and early Sunday with almost as much, according to the Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network.

In Leadville, where the Arkansas River headwaters begin, 27 inches has fallen since the beginning of the month, Kuster said. That’s more than twice the average for November, but September and October were far below normal.

Conditions are similar throughout the valley, and most water indicators for the Arkansas Valley are right where they’re supposed to be at this time of year.

Arkansas River levels below Pueblo Dam dropped Saturday as winter water storage began, but are right on historic averages.

Snowpack at Snotel sites maintained by the Natural Resources Conservation Service are at 114 percent of median, which is better than the rest of the state. Those readings won’t mean much until next spring.

Precipitation levels for Pueblo were at 11.57 inches Monday, just 0.41 inches below normal.

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