Snowpack here just below average |

Snowpack here just below average

Cliff Thompson

EAGLE COUNTY – With just one-third of the winter remaining, the snowpack in the mountains here is under 90 percent of average.But across the Colorado River basin, it’s right on target, said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resource Conservation Service. That’s nearly 20 percent better than last year at this time, Gillespie said.The southwestern part of the state had been buried by snow. Wolf Creek Pass has already exceeded its annual average snowpack, Gillespie said.”This year a lot of the storms have come down the West Coast turned south and then east,” Gillespie said, adding those storms tracked over southern Colorado.Mountain snowpack serves as a frozen reservoir, supplying Colorado and downstream states with water to fill reservoirs and for irrigation.The two snow monitoring sites for the Eagle River, Vail Mountain and Fremont Pass, east of Camp Hale, are carrying a snowpack that’s 94 and 70 percent of average, according to the Conservation Service.It’s not because of an El Nino – a periodic warm water current in the Pacific Ocean – Gillespie said.”This year, from what we’ve been hearing, the weather patterns is really not being caused by El Nino,” he said.While the Front Range typically sees its heaviest snowfall in the late winter, that’s not the case in the northern and central mountains, Gillespie said. October supplies 8 percent of the annual meltwater from snow; November 15 percent; December 17 percent; January 19 percent; March 20 percent; and April, 3 percent, Gillespie said.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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