Colorado’s snowpack remains above average
March snow surveys show the snowpack in the Colorado River basin is still above average, at 128 percent of average and 164 percent of last year’s figures.
But, like other basins west of the Continental Divide, snowpack totals decreased in the Colorado River basin for the second consecutive month.
In January, snowpack totals in the basin were 147 percent of average, and in February, they lessened to 135 percent of average.
Across the San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins, these decreases were large enough to lower the percentages to below average for the first time this year. Elsewhere across the state, particularly across the northern basins, these declines were less severe, leaving snowpack percentages at above average levels.
But in the Arkansas River Valley, the number has jumped from 103 percent above average last month to 108 percent above average this month. And that valley has 110 percent of last year’s snowpack.
The latest snow surveys indicate continued favorable conditions for next spring and summer’s water supplies, a press release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service stated.
Statewide, the trend continues to be above average and is 115 percent of average as of March 1. And basin snowpack totals are above average across most the state, with the exception of areas in southern Colorado – the Rio Grande, San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan.
“Probably the most significant aspect of February’s weather events was the overall improvement in areas of the state, which up until this month, had been fairing quite poorly,” the release said.
The Rio Grande basin totals, the lowest in the state, jumped from 80 to 88 percent of average during February and from 72 to 80 percent of last year’s snowpack.
“For many measurement sites in this area these February storms were the first significant snowfalls of the year,” the release said.
Approximately one-quarter of the winter snow accumulation season remains, and the conservation service predicts that most of the state can “bank on seeing average to above average spring and summer runoff,” the release states. “The outlook for water supplies remains good to excellent across the Yampa, Colorado, South Platte Gunnison and Arkansas headwaters.”
Basins that will likely see below average runoff this year are the Rio Grande, the southern tributaries of the Arkansas River and the southwestern basins.
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