Snowpack surpasses 2011 levels in high country | SkyHiDailyNews.com

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Snowpack surpasses 2011 levels in high country

The Fraser River flows through Granby on Tuesday, April 1.  Snowpack in Middle Park and the Upper Colorado Basin is at 144 percent of average based on the most recent snow survey by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Fraser River flows through Granby on Tuesday, April 1. Snowpack in Middle Park and the Upper Colorado Basin is at 144 percent of average based on the most recent snow survey by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Major river basins in Colorado

Colorado River Basin 128 percent

Gunnison River Basin, 111 percent

South Platte River Basin,135 percent

Yampa and White River Basins,124 percent

Arkansas River Basin, 101 percent

Upper Rio Grande Basin, 84 percent

San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins, 90 percent

Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 139 percent

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt, Noah Bates took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March. Snowpack for Middle Park and the upper Colorado River Basin stands at 144 percent of average, compared to 79 percent last April 1, 2013. The snowpack surpasses the 135 percent reading in the height of the year of 2011, and 62 percent in the drought year of 2002.

Snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 114 percent to 206 percent of the 30- year average.

The Granby snow course near C Lazy U Ranch, which has been read since 1949, set a new record high for the second month in a row. Snow density is averaging 31 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.72 inches of water. Irrigators, towns, river runners and other water users can expect higher than normal river levels this summer.

Reservoir storage remains higher than last year. From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall.

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. Manual snow courses will be read for the final time this year at the end of April.

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.

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