Vail’s snowpack surges with recent storms |

Vail’s snowpack surges with recent storms

VAIL, Colorado ” Recent storms have pushed the snowpack levels above average, both in the Vail area and statewide.

“We’re doing pretty well,” said Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor for the National Resources Conservation Service.

As much as 80 percent of Colorado’s surface water supply comes from melting snow. The state depends on good snow so it will have enough water year-round.

“It’s really critical that we are going to accumulate a good snowpack during the winter months to carry us through the demand season in the summer,” Gillespie said.

Snowpack levels now vary across the state. In southern Colorado, the levels are significantly above average ” 137 percent in the Rio Grande Basin and 129 percent in the San Juan-Animas-Dolores Basin.

On the other hand, snowpack levels have been lagging in northern Colorado. For instance, the snowpack is 85 percent of average in the Yampa-White River Basin.

Locally, the levels are just about average. On Vail Mountain, snowpack is 96 percent of average, according to the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

“That’s great,” said district spokeswoman Diane Johnson. “We’re close to average.”

The water district also keeps a close eye at snowpack levels at Fremont Pass and Copper Mountain, which both drain into the Eagle River. Those site are well above average.

Vail Mountain has seen above-average snowfall so far this year, with 142 inches in the books through Dec. 31, compared to the average of 122 inches.

But Gillespie cautioned that there’s still a lot of winter left ” the state typically gets 60 percent of its snow accumulation after Jan. 1.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s forecasts say the runoff will be almost average for the Eagle County area, Gillespie said. The runoff will be 94 percent of average for the Eagle River at Gypsum, according to the forecast, which takes into account National Weather Service long-term precipitation forecasts.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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