Grand County’s May snowpack holds strong at 131 percent of average |

Grand County’s May snowpack holds strong at 131 percent of average

Colorado’s early May snowpack tally is still holding strong with the statewide figure at 132 percent of historic averages.
Courtesy photo

Colorado’s spring snowpack is looking strong in early May and as federal officials begin tallying statewide figures, the stark contrast between 2018 and 2019 has become even more striking.

On May 6 officials from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the federal department of agriculture, released an updated map showing snowpack figures from throughout the state. Overall the picture is looking very positive with statewide snowpack at 132 percent of historic averages. The Colorado River basin, which includes Grand County, closely mirrors the state with a snowpack figure of 130 percent of historic averages.

The improved local snowpack should help with stream flows in coming months. In early May of 2018 federal officials were predicting summer stream flows out of Grand County at just 82 percent of historic averages.

Looking at Grand County specifically snowpack figures for the area were at 131 percent of average as of May 7 with significantly deeper snow still holding at higher elevations. Snowpack figures for Grand County can be roughly calculated using data from SNOTEL weather data gathering sites operated by the US Department of Agriculture. There are a total of nine such sites across Grand County that provide regular data entries though as of May 7 only seven of those nine sites were reporting valid data.

The northern portions of the county have the deepest snowpack figures for Middle Park according to the SNOTEL sites. The deepest snow in Grand County can currently be found in the northern Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park, at the Lake Irene SNOTEL site, and at the Arapaho Ridge SNOTEL site, located north of Kremmling and slightly southeast of Muddy Pass. Both sites tallied a snow depth of 67 inches on May 7 with Lake Irene’s snowpack at 109 percent of average while Arapaho Ridge was at 111 percent of average.

This image shows the dramatic change that has occurred in Colorado’s snowpack from the same time period in 2018 and 2019. The image to the left show’s Colorado’s snowpack on April 27, 2018. The image to the right show’s Colorado’s snowpack as of May 3, 2019.
Courtesy photo

Further south the snowpack along the Continental Divide on and around Berthoud Pass is looking good as well. As of Tuesday morning Berthoud’s snow depth was recorded at 31 inches, putting the Berthoud Summit at 103 percent of historic averages. A bit to the west the Jones Pass SNOTEL site, located on the on west side of the pass in Grand County, had a total snow depth of 49 inches. As of this week the snowpack on Jones Pass is at 125 percent of historic averages.

In the southern San Juans, in the southwest corner of Colorado, the picture is even better. As of May 6 federal officials were tallying snowpack in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basin at 176 percent of historic averages. Further west in the Upper Rio Grande current snowpack stands at 139 percent. That represents an almost mind-boggling change from 2018 to 2019.  On May 1 last year federal officials calculated snowpack in the Rio Grande basin at just 12 percent of historic averages.

Grand County snowpack – May 2019

Average county-wide snowpack: 131 percent

  • Lake Irene
    • Current depth: 67 inches
    • Snowpack: 109 percent
  • Phantom Valley
    • Current depth: 15 inches
    • Snowpack: 205 percent
  • Willow Creek Pass
    • Current depth: 46 inches
    • Snowpack: 123 percent
  • Arapaho Ridge
    • Current depth: 67 inches
    • Snowpack: 111 percent
  • Stillwater Creek
    • Current depth: N/A
    • Snowpack: N/A
  • Buffalo Park
    • Current depth: 31 inches
    • Snowpack: 141 percent
  • Berthoud Summit
    • Current depth: 58 inches
    • Snowpack: 103 percent
  • Middle Fork Camp
    • Current depth: 1 inch
    • Snowpack: 2 percent
  • Jones Pass
    • Current depth: 49 inches
    • Snowpack: 125 percent

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