Grand County snowpack 103 percent of normal
April 6, 2017
The snowpack figures for April 1 are in and while the overall snowpack has dropped from the March 1 levels Grand County and the Upper Colorado River Basin are still sitting at just above 100 percent of normal.
The Kremmling Field Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service conducts snow surveys each winter throughout Grand County and the larger Upper Colorado River Basin. Their April 1 tally shows the snowpack in both Grand County and the Upper Colorado broadly is sitting at 103 percent of normal.
A press released issued by the Kremmling Field Office states, "Lack of snowfall and warm weather during March, which is usually our snowiest month, as melted all of the valley snow and most of the mid-elevation snow up to 8,500 feet."
According to the release snowpack at lower elevation snow courses, where snowpack surveys are conducted, suffered the worst while the high elevation survey locations have seen snowpack totals fall drastically from near record high figures tallied earlier this year. Snow surveyors from the Kremmling Office state snowpack density is averaging around 40 percent, meaning there is 4.8 inches of water in every foot of snow. Officials from the NRCS stated a snow density figure if 40 percent is, "unusually high for April 1st."
“From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as additional spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall.”Kremmling Field Office press release
"From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as additional spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall."
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The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) tabulates snowpack levels throughout the state. The NRCS is part of the larger US Department of Agriculture. In Grand County Mark Volt from the Kremmling Field Office conducts the surveys, typically working with one other individual in the field. In early March, just after tabulating the high snowpack figures recorded last month, Volt explained the April 1 snow survey is considered the most critical data set for predicting spring runoff figures and summer water supplies.
Volt and others collect snow survey data from 15 different locations in Grand County and four locations in Summit. Collection points in Grand County include the Arapaho Ridge, the summit of Berthoud, Corral Creek, Jones Pass, Lynx Pass and Will Creek Pass among others. Some of the data collection sites are automated while others require snow surveyors to physically go to the location to gather the information.
According to a press release from the Kremmling Field Office most of the snow courses in Middle Park have been recorded snowpack data since the 1940s. The Middle Park snow courses that require manual data collection will be surveyed for the last time this year at the end of April.