Upper Colorado snowpack at or just below normal | SkyHiNews.com

Upper Colorado snowpack at or just below normal

Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

While recent storms padded southern Colorado’s snowpack totals to well above average, the northern mountains didn’t have the same luck.

Colorado’s northern mountains have yet to reach the average snowpack for this time of year, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

November was extremely dry across the board, and warm temperatures melted much of the October snow.

But snow-lovers shouldn’t fret. It’s still early in the season, and according to the Department of Agriculture’s outlook from Jan. 1, there is “adequate time for improvement.”

Despite the forecast in Colorado’s northern mountains for a dry winter, Grand County is looking good overall, said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the National Resources Conservation Service.

Berthoud Pass summit is 102 percent of average for water content and snowpack, with 9.5 inches of moisture content.

Arrow’s snowpack is 123 percent of average, and Jones Pass currently has 9.1 inches of water content, with a 103 percent of average.

Rocky Mountain National Park is seeing below average snowpack, however.

Phantom Valley currently has 4.8 inches of water content, with 89 percent of average snowpack. Lake Irene has 11.8 inches of water content and a 91 percent of average snowpack.

Compared to last season, moisture content and snowpack for Grand County are down slightly, but “I’d say it’s looking pretty good overall. The stream flow forecast will probably be about average for next spring,” Gillespie added.

Reservoirs and stream flow

Reservoirs for the upper Colorado River Basin are in decent shape. As of the end of December, Lake Dillon and Williams Fork Reservoir were almost full and above last year’s levels at this time. Williams Fork was 87 percent full, which could mean strong flows for the Colorado River through Parshall and downstream if the Denver Water Board decides to release from that reservoir in the spring ” something Denver Water usually does when Williams Fork is full, according to local water experts.

As of Jan. 16, Lake Granby was 54 percent full, slightly down from last year at this time, and at 82 percent of average.

Greg Silkensen, Web content manager for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said the percentage number isn’t a good or bad thing, since the lake is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and gets diverted to the Eastern Slope.

“The way we operate the reservoir, it’s hard to tell how full Lake Granby is by that number. The months that are really critical are February, March and April,” Silkensen explained. “We could have great snowpack right now, but if it gets dry and we have a dry and windy spring, the snowpack could disappear. But, so far, so good.”

Stream flows into Lake Granby are forecast at 93 percent of average for April through July. He did not have a flow forecast for the Fraser River.

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