Upper Colorado River Basin snowpack at 135% of average
April 8, 2011
A new record high in snowpack was set for Gore Pass, with a total snow moisture content of 16.6 inches and a depth of 50 inches. This beats the old record high of 16.0 inches, which was set in 1965, according to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Jenny Stricker.
Snow Surveyors took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March, when the monthly snowpack for the upper Colorado River Basin increased to 135 percent of average.
Snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 108 percent to 194 percent of the 30-year average. Snow density is averaging 32 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.8 inches of water.
The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, which measure 135 percent of average.
Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s.
Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall.
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For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.