Wet spring pushes Eagle County snowpack above average

Justin McCarty |
Justin Q. McCarty |


Snowpack: 108 percent of median in the Colorado River Basin, 92 percent statewide on June 1

Streamflows: Median average June 5, historical peak runoff day: 783 cubic feet per second on Gore Creek in Vail

633 CFS on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 on Gore Creek

208 CFS on June 5, 2012 on Gore Creek

Eagle River at Avon: 1,990 CFS on Wednesday, June 5, 2013

717 CFS on June 5, 2012

EAGLE COUNTY — The cool, wet spring pushed the local snowpack above normal and the statewide totals to 92 percent, said the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

This year’s June 1 snowpack readings are at 92 percent of median statewide and 108 percent in the Colorado River Basin said Randy Randall, acting state conservationist with the NRCS.

The statewide snowpack is up from 83 percent a month ago.

“This respectable percentage is due mainly to the generous amount of snow that remains across northern Colorado,” Randall said. “In contrast, the snowpack in the southern portion of the state is nearly depleted even at the higher elevations.”

Still, we’re not out of the woods.

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Eagle County is still in a moderate drought, according to David Simeral with the Western Regional Climate Center.

The entire western United States remains in a drought, according to Simeral’s data.

“It’s not as dry, but people still need to be careful,” said Diane Johnson with the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

The wet spring did change the local outlook for the better.

“At the beginning of March we were ready for worse than last year,” Johnson said. “Then getting all that snow in April and May and the cool weather that kept it around moved us into a normal pattern.”

Streamflows peak

Locally, streamflows are slightly lower than normal and our community still needs to pay attention to water usage.

“Remember, you’re living in a semi-arid environment,” Johnson said.

June 5 is the Gore Creek’s historic peak streamflow day, when water runs at 783 cubic feet per second past the monitors outside the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District offices.

On Wednesday, those monitors showed Gore Creek running at 633 cfs, Johnson said. A year ago on June 5, Gore Creek was running at 208 cfs.

The Eagle River at Avon was running 1,990 cfs on Wednesday. On June 5, 2012 it ran at 717 cfs.

“The takeaway is that streams are running well, and there’s still snow up high,” Johnson said

Snow matters

This year’s snowpack peaked April 25 on Vail Mountain, the same day it almost always does, Johnson said.

Colorado’s snowpack usually starts melting in April, beginning the runoff season, said the NRCS.

Streamflows are still near normal in headwaters regions in Colorado’s central and northern mountains. Soil moisture levels are also near normal for our region, according to the Colorado Climate Center.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is drier conditions are expected to return, according to climate center data.

That means reservoir volume will be slow to increase. In the Colorado River Basin, reservoir storage is 83 percent of the historical average and 74 percent of last year’s levels, says NRCS data.

The dry weather means soil moisture and vegetation conditions are beginning to deteriorate throughout much of the region. Warmer and drier conditions are expected to extend into next week, says a climate center report. It also says the outlook through August shows drier than normal conditions are likely.

The National Weather Service says we can look for sunny weather and clear skies for the next seven days.

Locals are still under watering regulations. If your address ends in an odd number, water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you have an even-number address, water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Turn everything off on Monday.

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

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