#Snowpack news: “We try not to get too confident or too panicked” — Brian Werner

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map February 12, 2018 via the NRCS.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

It’s been a winter replete with warm, coat-shedding days and light snows that vanish quickly from the ground. High temperatures have reached 55 degrees or warmer about one-third of days since Dec. 1…

The region is seeing the true colors of a weak-to-moderate La Nina, or the cooling of waters near the Equatorial Pacific. Savvy weather-watchers might remember last winter was also a La Nina winter, which is why this year feels a lot like last year.

La Nina is also the primary culprit of achingly low snowpack in southern Colorado and below-normal snowpack in Northern Colorado, meteorologists say…

…Fort Collins scrounged up 17.6 inches of snow between Dec. 1 and Feb. 8, just below the normal amount of 18 inches. Meteorologists use 1981-2010 normals from the Fort Collins weather station at Colorado State University to compare daily weather to average conditions. Most of that snow came from storms that dropped less than 3 inches — the only heavier storms were on Jan. 21, when the Fort Collins weather station logged 3.9 inches, and Feb. 1, with 4.4 inches…

…March, historically the snowiest month of the year, is yet upon us. April brings an average of 6.2 inches of flakes, too. So the snow show is far from over…

Many snowpack monitoring sites are seeing record-low snowpack, especially in the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan mountains, Colorado state climatologist Russ Schumacher said.

The Arkansas and Gunnison basins are at their lowest snowpack on record, at 56 percent and 49 percent of the normals for this time of year, respectively. The Upper Rio Grande and combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins are at their second-lowest levels on record, Schumacher said, citing data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service…

Conditions look better in the South Platte and Upper Colorado river basins that feed Northern Colorado water supply. The South Platte basin sat at 93 percent of normal on Thursday, the best in the state. The Upper Colorado basin sat at 79 percent of normal.

Both basins could get back to normal if late winter and spring bring healthy snowfall, said Schumacher and Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner.

Werner noted regional water storage is 24 percent above average thanks to wet seasons in years past.

“We try not to get too confident or too panicked,” he said. “We’re a little over halfway through the snowpack accumulation season. We’ve seen years go south on us from here out, and we’ve seen years turn around with wet spring storms.”

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