#Snowpack news: Middle Park snowpack has some catching up to do

From The Sky-Hi News (Lance Maggart):

Statewide Colorado’s snowpack stood at roughly 72 percent of the historic average after snowpack surveys were conducted after the first of the month. Snowfall is down significantly from last year’s figures. As of March 1 Colorado’s snowpack for the year was just 52 percent of the figure recorded on the same date in 2017.

The state got a big boost in February with the entire state seeing above average snowfall over the month’s 28 days, but it appears Mother Nature is getting to work a little too late. According to federal officials February’s deluge “has done little to improve the snowpack outlook for these regions.”


Across Grand County’s sub-basins snowpack tallies varied slightly but the overall picture remained the same with most of Middle Park currently resting between 80 and 90 percent of average. Grand County’s Willow Creek sub-basin is doing better than most of the watersheds in the north central Rockies with a March 1 snowpack reading at 93 percent of average.

Federal officials noted the streamflow forecast for Willow Creek Reservoir is the highest in the entire Upper Colorado River Basin at 94 percent of average, well above the figures posted in western Colorado’s Roaring Fork sub-basin, which has a recorded inflow figure of just 59 percent of the historic average. On the lower side of things in Grand County is the Williams Fork River sub-basin, which came in at 80 percent of average.

The Upper Colorado sub-basin, focused on northeastern Grand County, provides some of the most reliable snowpack data available for officials with a total of 36 survey sites where snowpack data is tallied. At the start of March the area snowpack came in at 86 percent of average.

One factor that will be of importance to ranchers, farmers and anyone else who relies on downstream river flows throughout the spring and summer are reservoir storage figures. Despite our lackluster winter reservoir storage at the end of February was 120 percent of the historic average and, surprisingly, above the tally for 2017, which came in at 107 percent of average at the same time last year.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The South Platte River Basin, encompassing the Front Range, including Weld County and agricultural land from Denver to Nebraska, is in better shape than much of the state when it comes to snowpack, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The department this week released updated snowpack numbers, showing a rebound for the South Platte River Basin, which is now at 87 percent of median. The North Platte River Basin, at 91 percent of median, is in even better shape, and both areas outpace the statewide total of 72 percent of median, which would require quite a feat from Mother Nature to correct.

“Greater than 200 percent of normal snowfall through the end of April would be necessary to overcome current deficits,” Brian Domonkos, Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey supervisor, said in a news release from U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Brian Werner said the district watches snowpack carefully.

“That’s our water supply; we’ve gotta have it,” Werner said. “It’s 80-percent-plus of our water supply.”

Along with the South Platte, Werner and others look to the Upper Colorado snowpack, which sits at 81 percent of median. He said it’s not awful. Even if it was, Werner said reservoir storage is looking good.

Indeed, in every area measured, reservoir storage is more than 100 percent of normal, with storage in the Arkansas at 142 percent of normal, a potential silver lining for an area with 64 percent median snowpack that suffered 45 percent median snowpack a year ago.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan have the lowest snowpack levels, at 53 percent of median, and the lowest reservoir numbers, at 105 percent of median.

“The southwest is not in good shape,” Werner said. “It’s come back a little bit. We’re all in this ballgame together, in some respects. We’d rather see everybody have water. We like it when it snows, it doesn’t matter where.”

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