More snow now than all last winter |

More snow now than all last winter

Cliff Thompson

This last round of snowstorms has brought the moisture content of the snowpack in the Colorado River Basin to 91 percent of average, while snow depths are at 86 percent of average.

Basinwide as of Wednesday, there was an average of 11.5 inches of moisture. In a typical year, the average annual moisture is 17 inches. The recent snow has pushed the average moisture half an inch over what fell last year, said Mike Gillespie, snow survey Director for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver.

“If we keep it coming here for another month, we’ll be above average,” said Gillespie. “The levels are already 145 percent of last year.”

That’s good news for the mountains, which last summer saw the worst drought in 175 to 400 years, prompting lawn-watering and other water-use restrictions.

Automated snow sites show the snow moisture at the headwaters of the Eagle River at Fremont Pass is at 97 percent of average. The Eagle is a tributary to the Colorado River.

On Vail Mountain, the moisture content is 102 percent of average, but snow depth is only 85 percent of average.

The forecast from the National Weather Service is calling for continued chance of precipitation through next week at this time.

“We’re under a trough of low pressure that will move east late Saturday night,” said meteorologist Ellen Heffernan. “Sunday is the best chance for a dry day then the northwest flow will begin and we’ll have continued weak disturbances.”

Gillespie said the peak snowpack measurements usually occur on or about April 1, although very wet springs, like those of 1995 and 1999, can significantly improve the available moisture.

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