#Snowpack news: Mountain snow water equivalent above average, E. plains bone dry

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 5, 2017 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 5, 2017 via the NRCS.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

As of March 2, the South Platte River Basin snowpack, which supplies much of Fort Collins’ water, sat at 131 percent of average for this time of year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Statewide snowpack is at a robust 139 percent of the average.

Deep snowpack levels are important for Northern Colorado communities that rely on snowmelt for urban water supply, agricultural irrigation and spring and summer streamflows. Snowpack is especially important during times of drought, and Fort Collins has been in a drought since August…

By Nov. 17, 2016, Colorado’s water year was off to the worst start in more than three decades as a stubborn high-pressure ridge remained camped out over the northern mountains and foothills. Snowpack in the South Platte River Basin was about half of the average amount.

But then the high-pressure ridge began to break down, allowing the jet stream to meander into Colorado’s mountains and fill them to and in some places over the brim with snow. Several snowstorms have dropped 5 to 8 feet of snow since mid-November. The statewide rate of snowpack accumulation between Nov. 17 to Jan. 1 was the fastest Colorado has seen in 32 years, according to NRCS.

Snowpack generally peaks around the end of April, so there’s plenty of time for the current levels to change…

Meanwhile, Fort Collins is behind on snow but ahead on precipitation. February brought 4 inches of snow to the city compared to an average of 6.9 inches, according to 1981-2010 averages from the Colorado Climate Center. Since November, Fort Collins has received about 26 inches of snow compared to an average of about 32 inches.

The city is slightly ahead on precipitation, with 2.36 inches compared to an average of 2.06 inches.

Still, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center projects that Fort Collins’ moderate drought will persist through spring.

Colorado Drought Monitor February 28, 2017/
Colorado Drought Monitor February 28, 2017/

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