Snowpack stands at average |

Snowpack stands at average

summit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY ” As precipitation in the High Country tapered off to only about half of average for the month of April, the snowpack also dwindled significantly.

As of May 1, the four automated Snotel sites in the county registered 103 percent of the historic average for the date, said Scott Hummer, water commissioner for the Blue River Basin. That figure could change slightly in the next few days, as the data from some hand-measured sites are added to the mix, Hummer said.

The readings included measurements of 121 percent of average at Fremont Pass, and 83 percent of average at Grizzly Peak, near Loveland Pass.

In Dillon, where Denver Water officials measure snow and rain totals and daily temperature readings for the National Weather Service, 9 inches of snow fell in April, compared to an average of 18.2 inches, based on records going back to 1909. That snow melted down to 0.67 inches of water, less than half the average 1.63 inches.

Across the county in Breckenridge, weather observer Rick Bly reported 12.5 inches of snow for April, compared to the historic average of 24.7 inches, based on records going back to 1895. For the snowfall season (October through April) Bly tallied 208 inches, making it the ninth-snowiest winter on record.

Looking forward, Bly said an average May should bring about 11 inches of snowfall to Breck, and 2.1 inches of moisture. But May can also turn hot and dry, he said. The records show there have been Mays with no snowfall at all. The snowiest May ever came way back in 1895, with 43.9 inches.

At the Dillon site, where temperatures are also recorded for the National Weather Service, the average monthly maximum temperature for April was 52.4 degrees, a whopping 4.5 degrees above the average 47.7 degrees. The monthly minimum average temperature was 20.1 degrees, nearly 3 degrees warmer than the average 17.3 degrees.

The temperature climbed above freezing every day other than April 19, when it only hit 32 degrees, for the chilliest day of the month. The high for the month came April 23, with 65 degrees.

Even though snowfall totals for April weren’t impressive, the snowpack is still the best in about 10 years, according to Hummer. By comparison, the May 1 snowpack last year was about 70 percent or normal, he said. The last time the May 1 snowpack was above normal was back in 1997, with 152 percent. In 1996, it was 172 percent of the historic average.

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