#Snowpack news: Significant variation between the northern and southern mountains in #Colorado

Liza Mitchell, education and outreach coordinator with the Roaring Fork Conservancy, left, and a participant in the Water Education Colorado SNOTEL workshop measure the snow-water equivalent of different layers of the snowpack. The liquid content of snow from this site measured roughly 21 percent. (March 2018)

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado’s mountain snow is measuring slightly higher than normal for this time of year, a vulnerable moment for cities and food growers ahead of spring, boosting confidence that water for crops, cattle and a growing population will be adequate.

Federal survey data showed the statewide snowpack at 106% of the norm between 1981 and 2010, but with significant variation between northern and southern mountains — a trend over the past decade.

And forecasters anticipated that dry soil from last year’s warm arid fall likely will reduce water in streams and rivers once snow melts. Much depends on snowfall this month, and March often brings heavy snow.

Southwestern Colorado faced drier conditions with snowpack between 86% and 94 % of the norm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Colorado Snow Survey found. Snow in the South Platte River Basin (124%), Upper Colorado River Basin (114%) and Arkansas River Basin (109%) — the main water sources for Denver, Colorado Springs and northern Front Range cities — promised reasonably sufficient water…

Snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos said Colorado was in “a good spot” overall, assuming more precipitation in the right places over the next few weeks.

The amount of water in rivers and streams “is going to be better in the northeast, and not as good in the southwest,” Domonkos said…

Denver’s reservoirs were 85% full, higher than the normal 80% at this time of year. Utility officials’ goal: Fill the reservoirs to 100% on July 1 to ensure water availability after snow on mountains melts and evaporates.

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