Snowpack news: The storms last weekend push statewide snowpack to 57% of avg #CODrought

snowpackcolorado11152012.jpg

Click on the thumbnail graphic for the statewide snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Statewide, the snowpack was at 57 percent of average, as of Nov. 15, with most West Slope basins between 50 and 60 percent of average. Even the North Platte drainage, which has seen some significant snows in the Never Summer Range, is only at 64 percent of average.

In Summit and Eagle counties, many streams are flowing at or below historic low levels, creating challenges for some ski areas that rely on direct stream diversions for snowmaking. Keystone, for example, has had to dial back its snow guns several times in the past week as the Snake River dropped to a flow of just six cubic feet per second, the minimum required under state regulations.

Earlier this week, automated gage readings posted online showed that the Snake flowed below that minimum for several hours. Last winter — during a wet year — Keystone’s snowmaking diversions caused the Snake River to drop below the required minimum stream flow between 15 and 20 times, according to officials with the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is now calling for a winter unaffected by either the El Niño or La Niña weather patterns. That differs from earlier forecasts, when weather experts were expecting an El Niño winter, which typically doesn’t bring ideal snow conditions to Northwest Colorado. La Niña, which often creates more favorable storm tracks for Steamboat Springs, also won’t be a factor. Instead, with near-normal ocean temperatures, forecasters are predicting what they call ENSO-neutral conditions, and that typically results in varied snowfall in Colorado’s ski towns…

Looking at seven ENSO-neutral winters going back to the season of 1961-62, snowfall in the city of Steamboat Springs was above normal three seasons and below normal four seasons. The Steamboat Ski Area saw its second best season on record during a neutral winter in 1996-97, when 447.75 inches of snow fell. The ski area also saw its worst season on record during a neutral winter; that was in 1980-81, when just 133.25 inches of snow fell…

Phillips said a weak system coming off the west coast could possibly bring snow showers Friday. A second system also favoring northern Colorado will push into the area early next week.

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