Snowpack surges thanks to storms that hit in February |

Snowpack surges thanks to storms that hit in February

Snowpack by the numbers


116% of median

161% of last year

Colorado River Basin

130% of median

185% of last year

Arkansas River Basin

109% of median

162% of last year

Yampa/White River Basin

121% of median

160% of last year

Rio Grande River Basin

79% of median

105% of last year

Median is based on a 30-year average

Source: Natural Resource Conservation Council

EAGLE COUNTY — February’s storms pushed the snowpack way above average across most of the state, as well as the Colorado River Basin, where we are.

Statewide, the snowpack is 116 percent of the median and 161 percent of this past year.

In the Colorado River Basin, where we live, the snowpack is 130 percent of the median and 185 percent of this past year, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Three good months

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Colorado’s snowpack has tracked above the long-term normal for three consecutive months, said Phyllis Ann Phillips, Colorado state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

It helped that the “Storm of the Century” blew through in early February, even though the century is still pretty young.

That storm increased snowpack totals from 95 percent to 109 percent of the median in just four days, the NRCS said.

Most years, snow keeps piling up until around April 25, said Diane Johnson with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Snowpack is important because it works like a massive reservoir. The snow depth is what comes down and piles up. The snow water equivalent is the water that snow contains.

Light fluffy powder doesn’t hold as much water. Late season snow in April and May has more water because the temperature is warmer.

This past year, the snow water equivalent lagged behind normal until a series of late season storms hit in April and May and piled up enough snow that we had a normal year.

No Nino

Once again this year’s “No Nino” weather patterns favored the northern and central mountain ranges in Colorado, places like Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs, Phillips said.

The southwest part of the state, the Upper Rio Grande and the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins, are suffering through another below normal snow year. While the combined San Juan basins did see a 3 percentage point increase from this past month, that put them at 85 percent of median, the Upper Rio Grande basin lost five percentage points, dropping to just 79 percent of median.

Streamflow forecasts for the Colorado River Basin point toward above to well-above normal volumes for this spring and summer, Phillips said.

She said the snowpack should improve reservoir storage.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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