Mayday! The San Juan snowpack is vanishing

Jonathan P. Thompson

There you have it folks: It was a crappy winter in the Four Corners Country. As of May 1, the San Juan Mountain snowpack, also known as the gargantuan “reservoir” at the headwaters of the region’s major rivers, is just about drained dry. While the snow season is not quite over — a winter storm has settled into the San Juans as I write this — the current numbers almost guarantee that the spring runoff will be meagre and fire season will be rough.

The only bit of good news is that this winter is turning out to be only the second driest over the last three decades — at most monitoring stations, 2002’s numbers were even lower. Also, as one moves northward, the situation tends to improve somewhat. On Red Mountain Pass, for example, the snowpack is currently at about 50 percent of average for this date, and is…

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