Snowpack in Middle Park and Statewide Remains Below Normal
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Vance Fulton took the March 1st. snow survey measurements during the last days of February. And even with the recent warm weather and valley melt, the survey shows that we are in fair shape up high…only ~10% below normal. Valley snowpack has decreased significantly during February while high elevation snowpack continued to slowly climb.
Snowpack in the high elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 75% to 109% of the 30-year average, with the overall average for Middle Park at 91%. Last year at this time we were at 143% of average. Snow density is 24%, which means that for one foot of snow there is 2.9 inches of water, which is pretty normal for March 1st.
Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: Colorado River Basin 85%; Gunnison River Basin, 64%; South Platte River Basin, 90%; Yampa and White River Basins, 82%; Arkansas River Basin, 66%; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 59%; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 56%; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 91% 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, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. At this point in time, it will take some significant spring snowstorms to bring our snowpack up to normal before summer.
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.