Latest News – April 3

Snow, Water Conditions Change Daily in Saguache

While the eastern half of Colorado keeps its eyes to the skies for smoke from wildfires, it’s snowpack and water levels that are on the minds of most valley residents. While the roads may be dry and the lawns in Saguache are starting to show, other shady areas are still seeing some pockets of snow remaining. This time of year conditions change fast, so be aware. So, if you’re curious about where things stand when it comes to snow conditions, here’s the latest from the experts.

Snow Pack Statewise Looks Strong Early Spring

When it comes to snow pack, measures were calculated all throughout the month of February by the United States Department of Agriculture, which monitors and records such data. Here is their official report as of March 1, 2017 which is the most current date on record.

Colorado’s snowpack continued to accumulate during February and the statewide snowpack remains well above normal at 139 percent of the median on March 1st. Despite areas that experienced below normal monthly snow accumulations during February and localized periods of unseasonably warm temperatures, the exceptional snowpack that fell during January allowed the mountains to remain at least 120 percent above normal in all areas.

Water, it’s the life source in Saguache and the entire San Luis Valley. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Ten SNOTEL sites across the state have record snow water equivalent for March 1st and another five have their second highest snowpack. The Gunnison River basin continues to have the deepest snowpack with respect to normal and is currently at 155 percent of the median. The combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan basins, the Arkansas River basin, and the South Platte River basin are all above 140 percent of the median, while the Upper Rio Grande and Colorado River basins are both near 135 percent of the median. The combined Yampa, White, and North Platte River basins currently hold the lowest snowpack with respect to normal, but are still at a healthy 126 percent of the median.

There is about a month remaining until most of the major river basins typically reach their maximum snow accumulations for the winter. Yet, all areas, except for the South Platte and combined Yampa, White, and North Platte River basins have already exceeded their normal peaks, indicating there will be a plentiful amount of snow available for runoff this spring.

Zeroing in a bit closer to home, snowpack in the Upper Rio Grande River basin is above normal at 136% of median. Precipitation for February was 90% of average which brings water year-to-date precipitation to 114% of average. Reservoir storage at the end of February was 91% of average compared to 93% last year. Streamflow forecasts range from 160% of average for the San Antonio River at Ortiz to 110% of average for the Alamosa Creek above Terrace Reservoir. 

For readers intersted in reviewing the entire report: CLICK HERE.

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