#Snowpack news: San Juans lead the way = 164% of median

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

From 9News.com (Maya Rodriquez):

When the winter wonderland in the mountains fades away come spring and summer, the liquid it leaves behind will make its way into a series of reservoirs, rivers and streams across the state.

“That’s a major part of our management of our water supply,” said Travis Thompson, spokesperson for Denver Water. “Eighty percent of Denver’s water comes from mountain snowpack.”

Right now, that snowpack is booming. For two of the main basins Denver Water relies on, it’s well above average: 140-percent for the Colorado River watershed and 133-percent for the South Platte, compared to where we would normally be at this time of year.

“For Denver Water, all snow is a great thing,” Thompson said.

Not all snow is created equal, though. Water managers say some snow is “juicier” than others – meaning, it carries a higher water content. That’s what we’ve seen in the snowfall of the past few days. The difference between so called “juicy” snow versus “fluffy” snow can be a big one when it comes to our water supply. “Juicy” snowfall contains about twice as much water, as the same number of inches of “fluffy” snow.

“So, the storms that we’re seeing right now, it’s a little bit warmer, which means it has a little more moisture in it,” Thompson said. “It’s less of that kind of fluffy, champagne powder if you will that doesn’t carry as much water with it.”

Is it possible to have too much snow, that can lead to too much runoff? Reservoirs were in good shape in 2014 and 2015, so it’s possible that this season’s massive snow could make reservoirs too full — but it’s still too early in the season to tell.

“Our goal is to be at 100-percent full for our reservoirs, once runoff season is over,” Thompson said. “So, we’re always adjusting levels to try and make sure that happens. Sometimes if you do see too much, we may have to do some releases earlier in the year to try, whether it’s preventing too much water at that time.”

If reservoirs get too much water, the only solution is releasing some of it – and that’s a delicate balance to keep water ready when we need it.

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Ryan Summerlin) via The Aspen Times:

This has been a really unusual event, which has to do with the amount of snow and its water content, said Ethan Greene of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The state has seen heavy precipitation over the past 10 days and significant, heavy snow came in fast over the past 24 to 48 hours, he said.

The high amount of water, from snow and freezing rain, means a huge amount of weight on the snowpack, Greene said…

In the meantime, the forecast shows more snow coming through Friday, so more [avalanche and rock slide] mitigation work will be required, CDOT officials said.

Finally, here’s the westwide basin-filled map for January 11th.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 11, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 11, 2017 via the NRCS.

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