February’s snows may dampen drought | VailDaily.com

February’s snows may dampen drought

Cliff Thompson

According to surveys by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, February’s precipitation total was the first better-than-average month of the winter. For Eagle County, the snowpack is slightly above average, and so is the moisture.

That news is good for drought-stricken areas of the Front Range that depend on reservoir-stored water. Last summer’s unprecedented drought caused reservoirs to reach unprecedented low levels, and they are expected to take several years to refill.

The state’s reservoirs are now at an average of 54 percent of average volume, or 1.6 million acre-feet less than average. An acre-foot is enough water to cover a football field approximately a foot deep.

The average snowpack to date is 148 percent of last year’s snowpack.

But the Front Range still needs huge amounts of snowfall to avoid drought this summer.

“In order to reach an average snowpack by the critical April 1 date (when the snowpack begins to decline), we’ll need almost 150 percent of normal snowfall during March. Our chances of receiving that amount are only 22 percent, says Allen Green, state conservationist.

“Colorado’s water users can continue to expect shortages throughout the remainder of this year,” states a press release issued by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“As average as you can get’

Measurements of February’s temperature and precipitation in Avon indicate it was just about average.

“It’s about as average as you can get,” says Avon weather-watcher Frank Doll, who has been recording weather data for 35 years.

The high and low temperatures for the month were 54 degrees on Feb. 1 and 8 degrees a week later, on Feb. 8. The average daily high temperature was 39.4 degrees, while the average low was 16.6.

Average daily temperature was 25.3 degrees. The long-term average is 25.

Snowfall came in slightly above normal as a stormy weather pattern dominated the last two weeks of the month. Snowfall, which totalled 20.75 inches, contained 1.65 inches of water. Average snow depth is 19 inches.

The moisture is welcome because it brings snow depths to 90 percent or better of average across the area and follows an unprecedented year of drought.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com

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