Middle Park snowpack lags behind 2012
Ryan Summerlin March 7, 2013
The most recent snowpack survey is not cause for relief.
“Not good,” said snow surveyor Mark Volt of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office, in an email with attached results of the survey.
“If we don’t start getting some spring moisture, you can probably plan on a dry summer just like last year,” he wrote.
Present snowpack levels are lower than last year at this time. March and April are typically the wettest months of the season.
“Cross your fingers,” Volt said.
Volt and Noah Bates took the March 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of February.
Snowpack in the high elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 59- 94 percent of the 30-year average, with the overall average for Middle Park at 75 percent. Last year at this time the same area was at 81 percent of average.
Snow density is averaging 22 percent, which means that for 1 foot of snow there is only 2.6 inches of water.
“This is pretty low snow density for this time of year,” Volt said. “Snow density for March 1 usually runs in the high 20s. Snow stability remains weak.”
Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of high country snowpack peaks around that time.
For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.