Colorado Feb. snowfall: Below average, but better than January | SummitDaily.com

Colorado Feb. snowfall: Below average, but better than January

ROBERT ALLEN
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County got more snow in February than in dismal January, but the locally recorded amounts continue to fall below average.

“Normally by this time of year we would have gotten 101 inches, and we’ve gotten 80,” said National Weather Service observer Rick Bly, who records snow amounts in the town of Breckenridge.

He said much of this season’s snow fell in October and quickly melted. November through February amounts were about 64 percent of average.

February’s snowfall total in Breckenridge was 20.4, down from the average of 23.5 inches. January’s total was 14 inches compared with an average of 22.4 inches.

“We’re below average and that’s not good,” Bly said. “Hopefully March will make up for it; March is kind of an unusual month.”

As for this month, there’s no fear that snowfall will break the record low of 4 inches set in 1962 – because more than that fell March 1, Bly said.

The record for the most March snowfall was a whopping 120.4 inches in 1899.

The local snowpack continues to lag well below normal, with the Colorado River Basin at 79 percent of average relative to a statewide average of 88 percent.

Areas with less snow tend to be in the central and northern mountains, which haven’t received as much precipitation as the San Juan mountains and others farther south – thanks largely to the El Nino phenomenon.

“Water users in these basins should be prepared for significantly less water than in the previous two years,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with National Resources Conservation Service in a press release.

“Snowfall during the next six weeks will be critical in determining how this spring and summer’s water supplies will fare,” according to the press release.

However, the past couple years of high runoff have helped fill reservoirs in basins which have received less snowfall this year – leaving them with higher-than-average storage levels, according to the press release.

“That helps for the water users below those reservoirs,” Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor with NRCS said in a phone interview, adding that irrigators along small streams and tributaries may “see pretty low water availability, especially late this summer.”

The level of Dillon Reservoir is 107 percent of what it was this time last year.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.


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