Snowpack news: The Gunnison Basin hits 75% of avg while the Upper Colorado is at 70% #codrought

February 22, 2013

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

A whopping 17.5 inches of snow fell at Monarch Mountain overnight Wednesday giving the resort a healthy 58-inch base much to the delight of skiers and snowboarders. The resort has received 175.5 inches of snow so far this season despite a late start that delayed opening by 24 days. Dry weather patterns meant little moisture for the all-naturalsnow resort where snowmaking equipment is not used, but Mother Nature seems to be very cooperative now.
“Nothing motivates the market like fresh snow,” said Greg Ralph, Monarch marketing manager.

Elsewhere in Chaffee County, weather spotters reported 4 inches of snow in Buena Vista and 2 inches of snow in Salida. In Fremont County, Texas Creek residents reported 4 inches of snow, while 2 inches were measured in Canon City and 1 inch in Penrose.

According to the KRLN radio, which maintains a weather station, Canon City has received 0.56 of an inch of moisture in February — nearly a quarter-inch above the monthly average. For the year, 0.73 of an inch of moisture has been recorded, just .03 under the annual average. In Custer County, snowfall ranged from 2 to 6 inches from the overnight Wednesday and early Thursday storm.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A quick-moving storm brought much-needed moisture to parts of Colorado, but moved out of the area by noon Thursday. The heaviest snowfall in the state was in the southwest and central mountains, along with the Colorado Springs-Denver area.

Fountain received more than 10 inches of snow overnight Wednesday, the highest amount reported. Moisture content was about 1 inch. Other parts of El Paso County received 5 to 9 inches of snow.

In Pueblo, snow was lighter, but wet. About 1 to 3 inches fell overnight in most parts of the area, with 0.1 to 0.2 inches of precipitation. In the southern part of Pueblo County, up to 0.25 inches of precipitation was recorded.

Light snow fell into midafternoon on the Eastern Plains, as the storm moved eastward.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jack Flobeck):

“Normal” in snowpack history can be many years ago, and it’s not the discrete date that counts; it’s what that entails; as well as what’s happened since that normal date. The 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s brought millions more people to Colorado, owning millions more cars; the temperatures are higher each summer; and hundreds of coal-fired energy plants have been built from California to Colorado, and even with best intentions and the latest high-tech filters; they all contribute to a dirtier snow. Dirtier snow melts earlier. Next snowstorm, take two identical plastic paint buckets, and, pack one with just snow; but in the other put a dozen black marbles in on top of every three inches of snow. Put them out in the Colorado sunshine that usually follows a snow. Check your watch, and you will notice that the bucket with the marbles melts in much less time than the snow-only bucket. This is the way it works with our snowpack, too.

Our farmers use 80 percent of our water to irrigate crops, and they can only irrigate after preparing their fields, planting, and fertilizing. If the precious and prayed for snow melt continues to occur earlier in the year; the bulk of our water will run downstream to Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California before the farmers have a chance to use it. Then, later in the year, when it’s almost too late, they will exercise their senior water rights to irrigate. Our rivers will be significantly drained, forcing many municipalities to start rationing.

This is a warning that “normal,” may be worse that the experts expect. In future columns, we will explore both practical and possible alternatives to alleviate part of this looming water crisis.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Garrison Wells):

Typically precipitation in February in the Springs is 0.21 inches. So far this month, the area is at 0.85 inches, said Mike Nosko, meteorological technician with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. Overall snowfall in the Springs so far this month is at 9.8 inches, with 7.3 inches of that blanketing the ground Wednesday night, he said.

From CoCoRaHS:

The highest 24-hour totals reported by CoCoRaHS were from observers in central Kansas. However, the area of heaviest snow was rather broad and extended into southern Nebraska and western Missouri with amounts of 10 inches and more common. South of the main snow areas, freezing rain glazed streets, trees, and power lines from Arkansas northeast through central Indiana. Ice accumulations of one quarter to one half inch were reported by CoCoRaHS observers in Arkansas this morning.


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