Snowpack above Middle Park a mixed bag despite February storms | SkyHiNews.com

Snowpack above Middle Park a mixed bag despite February storms

Matt Barnes
USDA-NRCS Kremmling and Walden Field offices

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Matt Barnes took the March 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of February, when the monthly precipitation for the upper Colorado River Basin returned to near normal at 96 percent of average. 

Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 50 percent to 101 percent of the 30-year average, with the highest readings on the southeast side of the valley and the lowest readings on the north side.

This is slightly more than 2002, except for the north side and Jones Pass, which still have even less snow than they did in 2002.

Snow density is averaging 22 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 2.7 inches of water. This is less water than normal for this depth of snow on March 1.

Northwestern Colorado and the North Platte River have the lowest snowpack in the state. The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the upper Rio Grande Basin and the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows:

• Colorado River Basin averages 79 %

• Gunnison River Basin, 95%

• South Platte River Basin, 78%

• Yampa and White River Basins, 74%

• Arkansas River Basin, 95%

• Upper Rio Grande Basin, 109%

• San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 105%

• Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 72% of average

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, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time.

For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.


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