January snowpack lowest since 2002 | SkyHiNews.com

January snowpack lowest since 2002

Submitted by the Middle Park Conservation District

The Upper Colorado River Basin snowpacks got off to a great start during October, but Jan. 1 snowpack marks the worst percentages since 2002, according to data released by SNOTEL.

On Nov. 1, SNOTEL data indicated basin snowpacks were over 130 percent of average. Unfortunately, a poor showing during November resulted in a drop in snowpack percentages by Dec. 1 to a mere 65 percent of average. Conditions improved during December and, as of January 1, snowpack conditions are below normal at 81 percent of average and only 64 percent of the measurements taken last year at this time.

In 2002, January averages were at 72 percent.

Snowpacks in the sub-basins are below to well below normal ranging from 63 percent of average in the Willow Creek Drainage to 91 percent of average in the Roaring Fork Watershed.

After a spectacular 130 percent of average showing in October, mountain precipitation during November was a pitiful 40 percent of average. December provided a modest 92 percent of average precipitation figure. Total precipitation for the water year is currently at 84 percent of average and 72 percent of last year. Reservoir storage is 104 percent of average and 74 percent of capacity. This year’s storage figures are 8 percent higher than those reported a year ago.

Forecasts call for below average runoff across the basin. April-July forecasts are expected to range from 75 percent of average for Muddy Creek below Wolford Mountain Reservoir to 85 percent of average for the Inflow to Ruedi Reservoir and the Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs.

On January 1, snowpack readings were below average in all of the state’s major river basins.

Adequate runoff during the last couple of years has allowed reservoirs to recover from previous droughts and should provide relief if conditions don’t improve.