Snowpack news

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

From The Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

The 17-day storm cycle that just deposited up to 6 feet of snow on local ski resorts could be compared to the slumping baseball team that suddenly gets hot in the dog days of August. It’s been a good run, but to make the playoffs, you still have to win an insanely high percentage of your remaining games.

With measurable snowfall on all but three days since Feb. 15, snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley reached 93 percent of average as of Wednesday, said Sarah Johnson, education and outreach coordinator with the Roaring Fork Conservancy, citing Natural Resources Conservation Service data. That’s up from 79 percent of average on Feb. 19.

But to hit the 30-year median — which Johnson points out is just average — snowfall through April 7, which is when the snowpack typically peaks, would have to be 134 percent of normal for the next month, she said…

The deficit is due to an abnormally dry period from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day. January, with just 5.5 inches of snow at the Aspen water plant, was the second driest on record.

Johnson also pointed out that not all snow storms are created equal, in terms of “snow water equivalent,” which is the key metric when it comes to river health in the spring, summer and fall. Some snowfall has a higher water content, while colder, drier storms store less water.

“It’s all about how much water is in that snowpack when it melts down,” she said. “The more water in that snow, the better off the rivers and the water supply will be.”

She said that as of now, the watershed’s snow water equivalent in around 12.5 inches, where the average peak is about 17 inches…

[Cory] Gates’ snowfall calendar is showing between 57 and 72 inches of snow at the ski resorts since mid February.

However, the pattern in the Pacific Ocean that kept the jet stream above Colorado and brought us all that snow appears to be shifting, and at least for the next week.

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