From The Pueblo Chieftain (Lacey Latch):
The statewide snowpack has grown over the past month due to winter storms across the western slope, but much of southeast Colorado has remained without significant precipitation, leaving the mountains with very little snow at the start of the winter.
Right now, according to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado, the Arkansas River Basin has only measured 76% of the snowpack average for this time of year. In contrast, the Gunnison River Basin to the west has already reached 118% of that area’s average snowpack. If this continues, the limited runoff could contribute to harsher conditions when the seasons change, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Wankowski. These conditions are due in large part to the climate pattern La Niña, Wankowski said, which…impacts the weather around the world and in the United States every few years…
So far, Colorado has seen between two and four feet of snow across Wolf Creek Pass and other areas throughout December, which has helped to boost the statewide snowpack, he said. “But for Southeast Colorado, the Arkansas River Basin is lagging. And this is pretty typical for especially the southeastern mountains,” he said. “The headwaters of the Arkansas River in the last month have been doing well but as you can tell … there’s no snow on Pike’s Peak, or very little.” This low snowpack level in southeastern Colorado is normal for a La Niña year, Wankowski said, but it still carries with it some potential consequences. And while the state as a whole is catching up in terms of the annual snowpack, the coming months will be critical in determining what the runoff will look like for the southeastern part of the state. “We need to continue this onslaught of snow,” Wankowski said. “If we don’t see much in the southeast mountains, which again is pretty typical for La Niña, we will be in danger of seeing drought continue to grow and get worse as well as the potential for spring and summer wildfires.”