Middle Park snowpack and predicted spring runoff mostly above averge
April 3, 2008
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors, with the Middle Park Conservation District and the USDA Forest Service, conducted the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March.
Measurements taken during the April 1 snow survey are the most critical measurements taken throughout the winter for making run-off predictions. Snowpack in most of the high country peaks around the beginning of April.
Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 96 percent to 130 percent of the 30-year average.
This is similar to 2006, when it was 94 percent to 124 percent of average. It is more than last year, when it was 63 percent to 119 percent of average.
Spring runoff is predicted to be average to above average, and will now be governed by temperature, wind and possibly a few late spring storms.
Snowpack at the lower elevations in Middle Park is also above average, as anyone who has been plowing or shoveling snow, or feeding livestock, can attest. Deer and elk remain on their winter ranges, foraging on south and west slopes melted or blown clear of snow.
Snow density is averaging 30 percent, which means that each foot of snow contains about 3.6 inches of water.
In Colorado, the northern basins are above average, and the southern basins are substantially above average. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows:
– The upper Colorado River Basin 123 percent of average;
– Gunnison River Basin, 133 percent;
– South Platte River Basin, 108 percent;
– Yampa and White River Basins, 107 percent;
– Arkansas River Basin, 141 percent;
– Upper Rio Grande Basin, 140 percent;
– San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River basins 126 percent;
– Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 106 percent of average for this time of year.
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.
For further information, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.