‘Drought years back to back, that’s when you start having problems across the state’ — Wendy Ryan #codrought #cowx

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From the Summit Daily News (Jessica Smith):

The statewide snowpack is at 72 percent of the average for this time of year and 90 percent from last year. For Summit County, in the Colorado basin, snowpack is only at 67 percent of the average for February and 89 percent of where it was last year. This means that the Colorado basin currently has just over half of the amount of snow it should have and just over 10 percent less than it had at the same time last year.

Colorado is not seeing the snowstorms it needs to alleviate the powder deficit. The entire state has been experiencing high-level drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor website. Exceptional Drought (D4) has crept across the Eastern Plains, while Summit County is engulfed in red at the Extreme Drought (D3) level.

“When we start stringing drought years back to back, that’s when you start having problems across the state,” said Wendy Ryan, research associate at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. “The odds are definitely stacked in favor of having a below-normal snowpack year again.”

The pattern of snowfall has been acting differently this year, Ryan said. In the past, snowfall has been continual, with small amounts falling in between big storms. Recently, however, periods of dryness and no snow have come sandwiched between the larger snowstorms.

“That’s really what sets us back. We should be accumulating about an inch of water a week in the mountains,” said Ryan, but that hasn’t been happening.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park are now around 73 percent of the 30-year average. Last year’s snowpack at this time was similar at 75 percent of average.

Snow density is low, however, averaging at only 19 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 2.3 inches of water, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office, from which Mark Volt and Noah Bates conducted snow surveys in the last days of January…

Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: The upper Colorado River Basin averages 68 percent; Gunnison River Basin, 77 percent; South Platte River Basin, 61 percent; Yampa and White River Basins, 79 percent; Arkansas River Basin, 64 percent; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 77 percent; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 85 percent; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins,73 percent of average for this time of year.

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