#Snowpack news (March 17, 2021): All basins in #Colorado benefitted from recent storminess

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Natural Resources Conservation Service data on Tuesday showed that snow water equivalent, or the amount of water in the state’s snow, is at 92% of median. That compares to 85% just before mid-month in February and only about three-quarters of normal around a month before that.

Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin in Colorado is now sitting at 89% of median, compared to 82% a little more than a month ago, and the Gunnison River Basin is at 86%, a 7% increase during that same time period.

The state as a whole is now about three weeks from when it typically reaches its peak snowpack accumulation for the winter, according to the NRCS.

The weekend snow brought more than 27 inches of snow to Denver, making it the fourth-largest snowstorm in the city’s recorded history. But Erin Walter, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, pointed to some reports of high accumulations from the storm in and around the Western Slope. These included 19 inches on Douglas Pass, anywhere from 20 to 28 inches in the La Sal Mountains just over the Utah border, and 14 inches in Ouray.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort on Tuesday reported having received 8 inches in the previous 48 hours, with the Snowmass ski resort near Aspen having gotten nearly a foot over the same two days.

Grand Mesa Colorado sunset.

Snowpack levels at Grand Mesa NRCS measurement sites are now at between 76-77% of normal, after ranging from 62-72% of median just over a month ago, and just 46-57%, depending on the site, in mid-January…

Snowpack in major drainages in Colorado now ranges from 105% in the Upper Rio Grande Basin to just 82% in the combined San Miguel/Dolores/Animas/San Juan basins.

Colorado Drought Monitor March 9, 2021.

Water experts have continued to warn this winter that even a normal winter snowpack is expected to result in below-normal spring runoff due to dry soils. Almost all of Colorado remains in some level of drought, with a lot of western Colorado in extreme or exceptional drought, respectively the two worst categories, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Much of eastern and southern Mesa County is in exceptional drought, with the rest of the county in extreme drought…

Walter said March seems to be a typically wet month for Colorado, and it’s not uncommon to see snowpack levels move toward normal this time of year…

Unfortunately, the federal Climate Prediction Center is indicating above-average odds of above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation in Colorado over both the next month and next three months.

Here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map for March 17, 2021 via the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 17, 2021 via the NRCS.

From 9News.com (Cory Reppenhagen):

Denver got 2.88 inches of precipitation over 48 hours over the weekend. That’s more precipitation than it normally gets all of March and April combined, and many other spots in eastern Colorado also got two months’ worth of rain and melted snow.

The state climatologists say they expect a huge reduction in Colorado’s drought levels. The biggest relief will be east of the Continental Divide where most of the snow and rain fell, but the storm will not be a complete drought buster on its own…

Colorado mountain snowpack saw an incredible jump with this storm — the headwaters of the South Platte, Arkansas and Rio Grande river basins are now back up to average, while statewide we are just 9% below median.

The places that got the big 4-inch totals were between 7,000-9,000 feet in the foothills where they have been begging for a big one.

Palmer Lake via Wikipedia Commons

From KOAA.com (Alan Rose):

Monument and the Tri-Lakes were hit especially hard from last weekend’s storm, with snowfall totals up over 2 feet in some areas.

Palmer Lake amassed a whopping 28″ of snow from the storm, and experienced blizzard conditions nearly all day Sunday.

Many other areas in northern El Paso County and Teller County also came away with more than 20″ of snowfall…

As advertised, Colorado Springs probably saw the biggest range in totals from the storm. Southern sections of town came away with about 5″ of snowfall, while northern neighborhoods consistently reported more than a foot of snow…

The Colorado Springs Airport collected 6.4″ of snow, with a water equivalent of 0.59″.

Pueblo reported 3.8″ of snow and 0.49″ of liquid precipitation.

For the year, both cities are above average. In the Springs, we’ve seen more than double the value of a normal year so far.

Leave a Reply