Grand County: Snowpack ‘excellent’ for first time since 1995 | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County: Snowpack ‘excellent’ for first time since 1995

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

Matt Barnes / USDA - NRCS

The snowpack in Grand County is looking “excellent,” reports Mark Volt of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Kremmling Field Office.

According to the Feb. 1 manual snow course readings ” the first for 2008 ” the snowpack for high-elevation mountains around Middle Park ranges from 92 to 133 percent above the 30-year average. Last year at this time, the snowpack measured around 65 to 108 percent of average.

Snowpack at lower elevations is also above average, and snow density is average at 23 percent, which means for one foot of snow, there are 2.8 inches of water.

“So far, it’s excellent. We’re just a little above normal, and we haven’t seen normal snowpack since 1995,” Volt said.

In fact, this year’s recordings are similar to the same time in 1983 and 1984, he added, which is the highest snowpack on record in the past 30 years. That year, however, it snowed heavily in April and May as well. Volt said it is too early to tell what the spring runoff and summer’s water supplies will look like this year. That won’t be known until April 1, as most of the high country snowpack peaks around that time.

Volt works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By this time of year, he and his co-worker Matt Barnes are often hiking, snowmobiling or skiing through thigh-deep snow to take measurements of Grand County’s various snowpacks every month from the beginning of January until April 1. Although some measurements are automated, Volt explained that a manual measurement involves taking a hollow tube and sinking it into the snow. From there, the depth is recorded and the core of snow is plucked and put on a scale.

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Most of the areas in Middle Park that Barnes and Volt measure have been read since the 1940s.

For more information, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow.

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