Early season snowpack strong in Grand County at 112 percent | SkyHiNews.com

Early season snowpack strong in Grand County at 112 percent

A snow surveyor checks one of the SNOTEL sites in Grand County.
Courtesy photo


• Lake Irene

o Current depth: 34 inches

o Snowpack: 107 percent

• Phantom Valley

o Current depth: 19 inches

o Snowpack: 100 percent

• Willow Creek Pass

o Current depth: 22 inches

o Snowpack: 127 percent

• Arapaho Ridge

o Current depth: 35 inches

o Snowpack: 119 percent

• Stillwater Creek

o Current depth: 14 inches

o Snowpack: 113 percent

• Buffalo Park

o Current depth: 21 inches

o Snowpack: 93 percent

• Berthoud Summit

o Current depth: 28 inches

o Snowpack: 122 percent

• Middle Fork Camp

o Current depth: 19 inches

o Snowpack: 88 percent

• Jones Pass

o Current depth: 26 inches

o Snowpack: 143 percent

Mother Nature has been relatively generous so far this ski season with ample amounts of fluffy powder falling all across Colorado’s High Country, leaving Grand County with an early season snowpack that is well above 100 percent of historic averages.

So far the run up to the 2018 – 19 winter has been snowy. Anecdotally backcountry skiers and riders were already grabbing deep powder turns on Berthoud Pass in mid-October. Ski resorts throughout northern Colorado opened earlier than expected this year. Closer to home Winter Park Resort’s Mary Jane Territory opened on Thanksgiving, the earlier opening of the Jane since 2010 and only the fifth time in Winter Park’s history that the Jane was open on Thanksgiving.

Conditions in the High County have held strong over the past several weeks as light intermittent snowfall has helped preserve snowpack in between larger snow events. The early season snowpack across Grand County now stands at 112 percent of average according to the US Department of Agriculture. That figure is derived from snowpack data from the nine separate SNOTEL sites across Grand County.

The deepest snowpack in Grand County can be found just over the county line into Grand County west of Jones Pass. That SNOTEL site, called Jones Pass, registered a snowpack figure of 143 percent as of Monday morning with a snow depth of 26 inches, down from a high of 29 inches registered on Dec. 14.

The Berthoud Summit SNOTEL site, located on the Berthoud Pass Ditch a few hundred yards away from the summit of Berthoud Pass, recorded a snow depth of 28 inches Monday morning. The summit got relatively little snow over the weekend leading to a decrease in snow depth, which was as high as 32 inches as recently as Dec. 13. So far this season snowpack in the Berthoud Pass area stands at 122 percent of historic averages.

Further north on the border of Grand and Jackson Counties the SNOTEL site at Willow Creek Pass measured a total snow depth of 22 inches as of Monday morning. Percentage wise Willow Creek Pass’ snowpack is now 127 percent of historic averages for this time of year.

Looking at Grand County as a whole the northern section of the county, along the county line between Grand and Jackson Counties, is seeing the strongest early season snowpack though the Continental Divide area in south central Grand County is also showing strong numbers. The western side of Grand County is seeing the lowest early season snowpack figures this year.

The Middle Fork Camp SNOTEL site, located southeast of Henderson Mill on the Middle Fork of the Williams Fork, and Buffalo Park SNOTEL site, located northwest of Red Dirt Reservoir near the county line between Routt and Grand, show the lowest snowpack figures in Grand County for mid-December at 88 percent and 93 percent respectively.

Meteorologists at the popular snow and ski condition website OpenSnow.com released a snowpack update for the western US on Friday. OpenSnow’s website tallies a snowpack of 125 percent for north central Colorado, an area that includes Grand County and several regional counties. Around the rest of the state conditions are also looking strong.

South central Colorado’s snowpack stands at roughly 129 percent while the northwestern corner of the state is seeing snowpack figures in the 115 to 118 percent range. The only area of Colorado not experiencing early season snowpack above 100 percent of historic averages is the southwest corner of the state including large sections of the San Juans.

“Colorado continues to shine thanks to consistent storms,” stated Sam Collentine, meteorologist for OpenSnow.

Looking ahead this week Grand County could end up seeing a bit more accumulation. Officials from the National Weather Service were forecasting highs in the low 30s and overnight lows in the teens with a 50 percent chance of snow showers Tuesday night and a 60 percent chance of snow showers Wednesday. Additionally the NWS issued a hazardous weather outlook for Grand County and other portions of north central Colorado.

The hazardous weather outlook for Grand County anticipates light snow flurries today and tonight with little accumulation. Forecasters expect a powerful jet stream to push snow and strong gusty winds into the High Country Tuesday night and on into Wednesday.

“The areas of blowing snow produced by 40 to 50 MPH winds may cause difficult winter driving conditions on mountain passes and around the Eisenhower Tunnel,” states the hazardous weather outlook.

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