‘Way better than last year’: Crucial April 1 snowpack report predicts high-water summer in Grand County
This year has been a great winter for snow in Grand County, and it shows in the recent snow survey taken April 1.
While all snowpack calculations provide valuable data, the April 1 count is considered the most critical data set for predicting spring runoff figures and summer water supplies.
The April 1 reading shows Grand County’s snowpack at 125 percent of median.
“(It’s) way better than last year,” said Mark Volt, a snow surveyor with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office. Volt compared the findings to the abundant snowpack seen in the area in 2011.
Last year’s April 1 snowpack reading was dismal, standing at 89 percent of the historic 30-year average. While it was considered low, it was still higher than many other areas of Colorado. Still, those results prompted the NRCS to conclude it was going to be a low-water summer in 2018 — and it was.
But this year’s results have the NRCS feeling optimistic.
“Irrigators, water users and river runners should anticipate higher stream and river flows for the upcoming summer,” according to the NRCS. “A welcome change from last year.”
It was indicated that localized flooding could be a concern if the current snow melts too quickly.
According to results from the NRCS, snow density in Grand County is averaging at 32 percent, which means that for every foot of snow there are 3.8 inches of water.
Reported median readings for the major river basins in Colorado are high as well, according to the NRCS.
The Colorado River Basin is at 133 percent; the Gunnison River Basin, 150 percent; the South Platte River Basin, 125 percent; the Yampa and White River Basins, 122 percent; the Arkansas River Basin, 143 percent; the Upper Rio Grande Basin, 149 percent; the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 159 percent; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 124 percent.
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the national Trout Unlimited group received the funding and to clarify exactly what the money will pay for.