February survey shows above average snowpack | SkyHiNews.com

February survey shows above average snowpack

Hank Shell
Donn Slusher takes a snow measurement on Gore Pass during the February snow survey.
Photo Courtesy of Mark Volt |

It’s been a good year so far for Colorado’s snowpack.

The Feb. 1 snow survey found that snow pack above Middle Park is 112 percent of the 30-year average, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office.

The average is based on readings taken between 1980 and 2010.

February’s reading shows snowpack is currently sitting above last year’s, which was at 100 percent of the average in February.

“This is the Feb. 1 reading, and we’ve got quite a bit of the winter still left, so stuff can still change,” said Mark Volt with NRCS Kremmling. “Either we can get lot more than normal or a lot less than normal.”

March is typically the snowiest month of the year.

The average snow density is 24 percent, meaning there are 2.9 inches of water per foot of snow, according to NRCS Kremmling.

There was much anticipation as to how a strong El Niño system in the Pacific Ocean would affect snowpack across the state.

So far, major river basins across Colorado are also reporting higher than average snowpack.

The upper Colorado River Basin is at 104 percent, the Gunnison River Basin is at 109 percent, the South Platte River Basin is at 101 percent, the Arkansas River Basin is at 109 percent, the Upper Rio Grande Basin is at 102 percent, and the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basins are at 110 percent, according to NRCS Kremmling.

Statewide snowpack was at 111 percent of normal on Feb. 1, according to NRCS Denver.

Two large storms that painted the state white at the end of January made up for less than stellar snowfall throughout the month, said Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor Brian Domonkos in a press release.

“Without these two storms January precipitation totals would have only been near 70 percent normal, however as a result of these late January storms, precipitation closed out the month at 98 percent of normal and 109 percent of the year-to-date total,” Domonkos said.

The April 1 snow survey is typically the most important in terms of characterizing the state’s runoff, Volt said

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010.

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