From The Summit Daily (Deepan Dutta):
This year’s statewide average snowpack is dramatically higher than any time in the past three years, and currently stands at 113 percent of normal. The pack is also a whopping 58 percent higher than last year’s dry winter, which peaked and melted early, resulting in a shortened season that disappointed many whitewater enthusiasts.
Brandon Gonski, general manager of Breckenridge outdoor adventure company AVA Rafting & Zipline, said that he and others in the rafting industry have been getting steadily more excited about this upcoming season…
“The snowpack in the Upper Colorado is at 113 percent, South Platte is at 110, Arkansas at 124,” Gonski said. “That all stacks up to be great news for us overall. There should be plenty of water, especially compared to last year.”
From The Cortez Journal (Mary Shinn):
Rain and abnormally warm temperatures this spring could cause serious flooding below the 416 Fire burn scar…
The area is not expected to see above-average temperatures in March, April and May, he said.
But every storm is different and the long-range forecast for average temperatures does not rule out periods of warm weather, he said.
Rain on snow would cause the worst flooding for the Hermosa area during the runoff season…
Higher daytime temperatures and warm nights could also cause higher runoff, said Butch Knowlton, La Plata County director of emergency management…
The areas most likely to be affected by high levels of runoff are near or below Dyke Canyon, Tripp Creek and Hermosa Creek, he said…
Nighttime temperatures below freezing would help moderate the runoff flows, Knowlton said during an Animas River Community Forum on Thursday.
The forum brought together representatives from government agencies, ditch companies and nonprofits working on flood mitigation.
Some groups are working on construction projects to divert water and improve flood prediction, but not many projects are expected to be in place before spring runoff.
In the short-term, La Plata County plans to install temporary temperature and rain gauges that will help predict flooding this spring, said Tom McNamara, emergency management coordinator for the county.
The county is also working on putting in another temporary radar system during the summer that would help predict monsoonal systems, Knowlton said.
Flood mitigation on private property is also expected to get started this year, possibly during the summer, said county spokeswoman Megan Graham.
The county will put out bids for the construction, potentially for several properties at a time, she said.
“We want to get the work done as quickly as possible, but there are administrative steps that have to be taken,” she said.
Federal funding will cover 75 percent of the construction on private land through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Property owners interested in participating in the program will be responsible for up to 25 percent of the cost, she said.
Five irrigation companies in the Animas Valley are also preparing for runoff waters that flow into ditches and are carried to areas they would not naturally go, said Ed Zink, the secretary and treasurer for Animas Consolidated Ditch.
The ditch companies received about $200,000 in grant funding and provided about $100,000 in a local match to fund construction and to help keep ditches clear of silt and debris.
This spring, Animas Consolidated Ditch plans to put in gates and help direct floodwaters to the Animas River, Zink said.
From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):
At long last, after several large storms, snow water equivalency (SWE) and precipitation data are reported as being above average for this first time this winter.
According to a press release craft- ed by Pagosa Area Water and Sanita- tion District Manager Justin Ramsey, the SWE was 26.1 inches as of Feb. 25, while the median was only 25.5 inches.
With those recent totals, SWE is now 102.4 percent of median, up from last week’s total of 88.9 percent of median.
“It’s good, we’re all above average now,” Ramsey said in an interview.
With limited snow in the forecast, Ramsey noted that the SWE levels will probably stay about the same with minimal melting occurring at the Upper San Juan site.
“But, we’re probably going to drop below 100 percent again because the average always goes up a little bit,” Ramsey said.
The median and averages are based on data from 1981 through 2010.
Last week, the SWE was measured at 20.6 inches while the median was listed at 23.2 inches.
Precipitation currently is 29.5 inches while the precipitation av- erage is 26.9 inches, making the precipitation totals 109.7 percent of median.
Last week, precipitation totals were only 24.5 inches while the median was 25.4 inches, making the total 96.5 percent of median.