#Snowpack news: Big widespread storm needed for #Colorado

Westwide SNOTEL map April 10, 2015 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL map April 10, 2015 via the NRCS.

From CBS Denver:

Scientists hiked up Berthoud Pass in Summit County on Thursday to measure the snowpack as part of the annual snow survey for Colorado.

“There might be about six feet of snow but there might only be two feet of actual liquid water stored,” said Karl Wetlaufer, assistant snow surveyor…

Many of the recent large storm events missed the southern and southwest mountains where snowpack is largely 70-80 percent of normal…

“We’re in a really good situation, particularly in the northern and central mountains and basins in Colorado,” said Wetlaufer.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The Yampa River basin stands to see near normal spring runoff after March provided an abundance of wet snow in the Park, Gore and Flat Top mountain ranges. The moisture may have come just in time…

The U.S. Geological Survey, which measures streamflows, reports the Yampa River at Fifth Street in downtown Steamboat Springs typically begins to rise in the first week in April, and on Thursday, the river spiked sharply, from just above 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) to almost 500 cfs. That’s about 100 cfs above the median for the date.

[Brian] Domonkos, who works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver, reported this week that, after a disappointing February, the northern half of Colorado was favored by the storm pattern in March. Still, the snowpack in the combined Yampa and White River basins is 97 percent of the median for the date.

Rabbit Ears Pass is among the outliers — the snow there was 73 inches deep Friday, and snowpack is 132 percent of median, with 33.3 inches of standing water, compared to the median 25.2 inches.

The Dry Lake snowpack measuring site at the foot of Buffalo Pass is 120 percent of median, but the Tower site near the top of the pass is just 86 percent of median, with 39 inches of water compared to the normal 46 inches. Yet, with a snow depth of 107 inches, Tower leads the state.

Tower is one of more than 800 remotely monitored snow measuring stations in the mountain west that scientists use to predict how much water will flow down streams and rivers this springs, which correlates directly with water supply…

Northwest Colorado is in much better shape than the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins, which drain the western San Juan Mountain Range. Snowpack there is just 71 percent of median. Snowpack at Red Mountain Pass and Molas Lake, between Silverton and Durango, is in the 60th percentile.

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