Snowpack remains way above normal
Ryan Summerlin March 10, 2014
Even as temperatures climb with spring on the horizon, snowpack in Middle Park remains in good shape.
According to the most recent USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveys, snowpack in the high elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 115 percent to 194 percent of the 30-year average, with the overall average for Middle Park at 141 percent. New record highs were set at both the Granby and Buffalo Park snow courses. At this time last year, the area was only at 75 percent of average. Snow density is averaging 28 percent, which means that for one foot of snow there is only 3.3 inches of water, which NRCS surveyors said is normal for early March.
All Colorado River basins are reporting above average snowpack, except for southwestern Colorado which is 5 to 15 percent below average. Reported readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: Colorado River Basin 137 percent; Gunnison River Basin, 114 percent; South Platte River Basin,145 percent; Yampa and White River Basins, 122 percent; Arkansas River Basin, 103 percent; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 85 percent; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basins 95 percent; and the Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 132 percent of average for this time of year.
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 our high country snowpack peaks around that time.
For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.