Drought/snowpack news: Statewide snowpack = 75% of avg, South Platte = 59% (lowest in state) #codrought #cowx

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From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

According to weather data tracked by the Aspen Water Department, 80 percent of January’s snow fell during the final week of the month, providing a string of powder days on the slopes and keeping the month out of the top five driest Januarys on record. Still, last month nearly cracked the top 20 with a total snowfall that was well short of average. The Water Department measured 18.3 inches of snowfall at the town’s water plant, located at an elevation of 8,161 feet, for the month. The average is 25.9 inches…

Last week’s snows helped boost the statewide snowpack to 75 percent of normal thanks to huge dumps that added several feet of new snow to parts of Colorado, including the southwest mountains (Telluride reported nearly 3 feet by Thursday), the Grand Mesa and the Steamboat Springs area…

Snowpack in the Roaring Fork Basin stood at 63 percent of average on Sunday. It was at 60 percent of average on Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, and at 76 percent of average on North Lost Trail, outside Marble, according to the conservation service.

By comparison, the snowpack in the river basins of southwest Colorado — the Dolores-San Miguel and San Juan — stood at 75 and 74 percent of average, respectively. The Yampa/White River basin, including Steamboat Springs, was at 78 percent of average, and the Upper Colorado River headwaters, which encompass ski resorts that include Vail and Copper Mountain, was at 72 percent.

From the High Country News (Sarah Jane Keller):

“Normal” climate is often measured in 30-year increments, adapted every decade by many weather-watching organizations. Until recently, Morrisey’s NRCS, whose SNOTEL sites track Western snowpack, used 1971-2000 as its standard. Now, however, it uses 1981-2010, meaning precipitation averages exclude the 1970s’ wet years. Instead, the dry 2000s have replaced them, so this year’s Western snowpack conditions may sound better than they are. This affects far more than peeved powder hounds; irrigators and rafters hoping to avoid parched crops and rocky rivers will have to adjust their notions about what a normal snowpack is.

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