LAKEWOOD- Colorado′s mountain snowpack continues to track at above average levels this month. The latest snowpack surveys, conducted by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), indicates that all of the major river basins in the state are now above average, ranging from 103 percent of average in the South Platte Basin to 130 percent of average in the Rio Grande Basin. Statewide totals are now 117 percent of average, showing just a slight decrease from the statistics of a month ago, when the state was reporting 120 percent of average. These latest readings are 90 percent of last year′s snowpack totals on this same date, according to Allen Green, State Conservationist, with the NRCS.
Mountain weather brought dry conditions across much of the state during the early part of January. This resulted in decreases in snowpack percents of average across the entire state by the third week of the month. Then, during the last week of January, a strong storm system brought good snowfall to the state, with the brunt of the storm being delivered to the basins across northern Colorado. By month′s end, the northern basins had improved their snowpack percentages from last month, while the southern basins decreased slightly. "Overall, the January storms helped to even out the snowpack percentages across the state," said Green. These improvements in the snowpack totals across portions of northern Colorado allowed these basins to report above average totals for the first time this season.
While most of the state is reporting less snowpack than last year, this year′s totals are much more consistent across the state, bringing slightly above average totals to northern Colorado, while moderating the extremely high snowpack percentages, and concerns about high water, across the southern basins.
The results of this survey continue to bring encouraging news to the state′s water users. Given near average snowfall for the next two months, spring and summer water supplies are generally expected to be near to slightly above average this year. About the only portion of the state which remains somewhat vulnerable to below average runoff is the Front Range, where current projections continue to call for slightly below average runoff in the South Platte Basin. Still, a wet April or May can drastically improve this outlook in this portion of the state.
Colorado′s reservoir storage remains in good condition across most of the state. Basinwide storage volumes range from 84 percent of average in the Rio Grande Basin, to 104 percent of average in the Yampa and Gunnison basins.