Snow totals in Rocky Mountain National Park continue to see downward trend | SkyHiNews.com

Snow totals in Rocky Mountain National Park continue to see downward trend

A park ranger with Rocky Mountain National Park stands in pretty deep snow on a bridge inside the park.
Courtesy / Rocky Mountain National Park

Snow Depth data for RMNP

Phantom Valley - 9,030 ft (Timber Lake Trailhead)

2018: Jan. - 12, Feb. - 20, March - 27, April - 26

2017: Jan. - 27, Feb. - 40, March - 44, April - 23

2016: Jan. - 19, Feb. - 32, March - 29, April - 39

Lake Irene - 10,700 ft

2018: Jan. - 41, Feb. - 49, March - 66, April - 76

2017: Jan. - 51, Feb. - 68, March - 87, April - 72

2016: Jan. - 42, Feb. - 60, March - 63, April - 86

Willow Park - 10,700 ft (Old Fall River Rd near Marmot Point)

2018: Jan. - 24, Feb. - 34, March - 45, April - 51

2017: Jan. - 31, Feb. - 47, March - 62, April - 49

2016: Jan. - 33, Feb. - 44, March - 44, April - 64

Bear Lake - 9,500 ft

2018: Jan. - 21, Feb. - 26, March - 41, April - 43

2017: Jan. - 32, Feb. - 51, March - 66, April - 53

2016: Jan. - 28, Feb. - 43, March - 46, April - 54

Copeland Lake - 8,600 ft

2018: Jan. - 5, Feb. - 7, March - 12, April - 2

2017: Jan. - 15, Feb. - 27, March - 25, April - 0

2016: Jan. - 14, Feb. - 20, March - 11, April - 7

Wild Basin - 9,560 ft

2018: Jan. - 24, Feb. - 27, March - 38, April - 42

2017: Jan. - 31, Feb. - 49, March - 60, April - 51

2016: Jan. - 27, Feb. - 40, March - 42, April - 49

*All depths listed in inches

Source: Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA

It will come as no surprise to the residents of Grand County that this winter has been tepid in terms of snowfall and Colorado’s iconic Rocky Mountain National Park has been no exception.

Snowfall figures in the park have been, for the most part, down compared to recent years throughout most of 2018 resulting in a dearth of snowpack and very likely light spring runoff. April 2018 though shows slightly higher snow depth at most of the snow survey sites compare to 2017 figures, though both years were well behind snowfall figures for 2016 at most survey sites. Snow fall figures, and snow depth data, is calculated by the Natural Resource Conservation Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From the Kawuneeche Valley in Grand County to the Wild Basin east of the Continental Divide, snowfall figures varied across the six survey sites depending on particular elevation of snow survey sites and other factors. As of April 1, the snow survey site with the deepest snowpack was Lake Irene, located on U.S. Highway 34 between the Kawuneeche Valley and the Alpine Visitor Center at an elevation of 10,700 feet.

The Lake Irene survey site tallied a snow depth of 76 inches on April 1, slightly above the April 1 count for 2017 – at 72 inches, but below the April 1 2016 tally at 86 inches. The site inside Rocky with the lowest recorded snow depth as of April 1 was Copeland Lake site, located at 8,600 feet slightly west of Allens Park, came in at just two inches. Copeland Lake historically has the lowest snow depth of all snow survey sites within the park.

“Snow levels this year on the west side of the park were consistently below average and temperatures were warmer than normal,” Kyle Patterson, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain National Park, stated. “Trails were covered and skiing and snowshoe conditions were good in January. There was snowfall in February and March but only with small accumulations of two to four inches at a time.”

Patterson noted that warmer temperatures in February and March created challenging snow conditions.

“There was snow coverage but the conditions were often poor,” Patterson stated. “The North Supply Access Trail was only open for two weeks in January. Warm temperatures prevented the trail from freezing overnight to allow a solid base.”


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