Big March storms helped boost Colorado’s snowpack, but they weren’t enough to solve the long-term drought | VailDaily.com
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Big March storms helped boost Colorado’s snowpack, but they weren’t enough to solve the long-term drought

Zach Bright
The Colorado Sun

 

DENVER — Snowstorms last month replenished snowpack in the Colorado mountains and improved drought conditions on the Front Range, as did rain that quenched the parched Eastern Plains. But smaller amounts of precipitation farther south and west have done less to dampen drought conditions.

Ultimately, researchers say that one big storm is not enough to break Colorado out of its long-term drought.

“What we’ll need are probably multiple years of above average snowfall to really get us out of this,” said Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center.



Snowpack, the snow that accumulates in the mountains, provides Colorado with 50% to 80% of its usable water. As temperatures rise in April and through the spring, melting snow renews the rivers and fills reservoirs throughout the state. Last month’s snowstorm was a boon.

Data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado shows some promising snowpack conditions. The snow-water-equivalent — the amount of liquid water held in snow — is at or above 90% of normal in the Yampa, White, Laramie and North Platte and South Platte river basins. In the Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins, it is 110% of normal. Conditions are not as good in the Upper Colorado, Gunnison and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins, all under 90% of normal.




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