#Snowpack reversal (December 28, 2021): 10 days makes huge difference in Colorado snowpack — Out There #Colorado

Colorado snowpack basin-filled map December 27, 2021 via the NRCS.

From Out There Colorado (Spencer McKee):

Powderhounds around the state are likely rejoicing after a major snowstorm moved through Colorado over the long holiday weekend, dropping feet of snow in some areas. Following several dry weeks that dropped Colorado’s snowpack far behind the 20-year median, widespread accumulation has resulted in a lack of snow no longer being the case.

As of December 27, statewide snowpack is at 95 percent of the to-date median. Ten days ago, statewide snowpack was at just 78 percent of the to-date median, and days before that, it was around 50 percent.

There’s no doubt about it that Colorado’s snowpack has made significant gains over the past couple of weeks, with more big snow on the way over the next couple of days.

Perhaps even more spectacular is the snowpack boost that’s been seen in the southwest region of the state.

The San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan river basin in southwest Colorado jumped from around 84 percent of the to-date median snowpack to 107 percent of the to-date median snowpack over the last ten days, having increased to 84 percent from about 30 percent of the to-date median snowpack just days before that.

The Gunnison River Basin is currently the farthest ahead of the 20-year median to-date snowpack, at 118 percent of what this region typically sees by December 27. This region includes spots like Crested Butte.

The lowest snowpack total is currently found in the Upper Rio Grande Basin, in southern Colorado, at 78 percent of the 20-year median. The Arkansas River Basin, in southeast Colorado, is close behind at 80 percent.

Colorado Drought Monitor map December 21, 2021.

The recent snow will likely help Colorado’s drought situation, with 99.8 percent of the state currently experiencing drought of some level as of December 21, when the most recent report was released by the US Drought Monitor. Roughly 22 percent of the state is experiencing ‘extreme’ drought, the third of four stages, compared to roughly 49 percent this time last year. None of the state is currently experiencing the most intense form of drought – ‘exceptional’ drought. This is a huge positive compared to last year, when more than 27 percent of the state was experiencing this level of drought nearing the end of December.

From The Durango Herald (Aedan Hannon):

The snowpack as of Monday in Southwest Colorado, measured by the snow’s water content, was at 112% of the most recent 30-year average for the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins and 120% of Gunnison Basin’s average, according to the National Resources Conservation Service.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 27, 2021 via the NRCS.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The waves of snowstorms that rolled over the Aspen-area between Thursday and Sunday brought the kind of snow that can make a dent in the ongoing drought.

The heavy, wet snow boosted the snow pack by 25% near the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River, 32% at the headwaters of the Fryingpan River and 64% at the headwaters of the Crystal River in just four days…

The snowpack is at about 44% of the median peak value. It typically doesn’t hit 50% of peak until late January…

Forecasters at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center marveled on Christmas Day about the high moisture content of the snow that fell on Schofield Pass (located between Marble and Crested Butte) and elsewhere in the central mountains during this extended storm cycle…

Long bouts of snow are nothing new in the Rocky Mountains but consecutive days of powder are still reason to celebrate. According to Aspen Skiing Co.’s snow reports, Aspen Highlands reaped 42 inches of snow from Dec. 23 through 5 a.m. Monday morning. Snowmass pulled in 29 inches while Aspen Mountain was right behind at 27 inches. Buttermilk managed an impressive 22 inches over that stretch.

The automated Snotel site on Independence Pass shot up from 80% of median on Dec. 23 to 100% of median on Monday. The NRCS uses a 30-year median between 1990 and 2020.

The snowpack at the Ivanhoe site on the upper Fryingpan improved from 96% of median on Dec. 23 to 127% on Monday.

The biggest gainer was Schofield Pass, which soared from just 82% of median on Dec. 23 to 135% on Monday.

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