#Snowpack news: “Water managers…hard-eyed realists when it comes to snow” — Chris Woodka

Westwide SNOTEL map April 19, 2016 via the NRCS
Westwide SNOTEL map April 19, 2016 via the NRCS

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Last weekend’s snow was wet and heavy enough to snap trees, but a welcome relief for dry conditions in parts of the state.

Nearly all of the Arkansas River basin received 1-2 inches of moisture from the recent storms, bringing the year-to-date totals above average for the area. Pueblo received more than 1.5 inches of rain in the last week to bring the year’s total to more than 3 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

It was good news for Colorado’s snowpack in most basins, bringing the state up to 98 percent of median.

While the Southwest, Gunnison and Rio Grande basins remain below the median, the remainder of the state is at or above normal just as the peak day for snowpack in most places — mid-April — arrived. Prior to the weekend snow, most places had been lagging.

A range of 2-4 feet of snow fell in the mountain areas, with lower elevations in Chaffee and Lake counties reporting up to 2 feet of snow. Parts of Pueblo County got about 1 foot of snow, which was welcome, but caused some damage.

Dave Van Manen, ranger for Pueblo Mountain Park in Beulah, posted on Facebook a poetic tribute to one of his favorite trees that fell victim to the storm: “The ‘leaning tree’ — the large ponderosa pine at the start of the Tower Trail in Pueblo Mountain Park — succumbed to the weight of this weekend’s heavy wet snow. I have spent many, many hours in the company of this amazing tree. The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind, ‘I frequently tramped 8 or 10 miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.’ In my mind, this tree will always be there at the start of the Tower Trail. — Ranger Dave.”

Water managers, who are hard-eyed realists when it comes to snow, might have a different take. The snowpack in the Upper Colorado and Upper Arkansas River basin is now at 120-140 percent of median in terms of water content, assuring a healthy supply once spring runoff begins.

Water from the Upper Colorado River basin supplies transmountain diversion projects such as Twin Lakes and the Fryingpan- Arkansas Project that bring water into the Arkansas River basin each year.

Storage in the Arkansas River basin remains nearly full, so continued wet weather this spring could mean water held in reservoirs may need to be released. At Lake Pueblo, water managers lowered the level successfully to meet an April 15 deadline in order to leave enough space for flood protection.

The Lower Arkansas Valley, which had been moving into drought conditions, received about an inch of precipitation and sometimes more from the rainy weather that began Saturday. That moisture will benefit winter wheat that was sown last fall and improve soil moisture for the coming growing season.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

The massive spring storm has delivered in a big way to Winter Park Resort, which has picked up 23.5 inches of fresh powder over the last 48 hours with more on the way. The new snow sets up stellar late-season conditions and there’s still plenty of time to enjoy it as Winter Park closes on April 24 and Mary Jane closes on May 7.

From The Englewood Herald (Tom Munds):

Reports around Englewood listed snowfall depths varying from six to a little more than 10 inches. While the snowfall made a pretty picture, the water-heavy snow did result in many owners finding broken branches and damaged bushes in their yards…

“The heavy, wet snow broke some tree limbs in our parks,” said Jerry Barton, Englewood Parks supervisor. “I think we saw the most tree damage in Romans and Duncan parks.”

He said the crabapple trees got hit hard because the leaves were out and the pink blossoms had already bloomed. He said many of the pear trees on corners on South Broadway also suffered damage.

Two parks maintenance crews were out April 18. The crew in Romans Park on West Floyd Avenue was using a small chain saw to trim and take down many of the broken limbs. Crew member Jake McClure said they would have to get the larger chain saw as the broken limbs on many of the crabapple trees were too large to try to cut with the small chain saw.

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