Year starts with near-average snowpack | VailDaily.com

Year starts with near-average snowpack

Cliff Thompson

DENVER – With November and December’s snows, 2004’s snowpack ended the year at 99 percent of the long-term average. That’s an improvement of 8 percent over last year’s snowpack, which indicates how much water will fill streams and reservoirs in the spring, said Mike Gillespie of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. In Eagle County and the rest of the Colorado River Basin the snowpack ended the year at 96 percent of average.The precipitation is being driven by warm Pacific Ocean currents known as El Niño. In southwestern Colorado the snowpack is up to 118 percent of average, Gillespie said.”It’s been a weird year,” Gillespie said. “Part of Utah got snowfall totals in 10 days they usually achieve by April 1.”The snowpack in the Yampa and White rivers in the northwestern part of the state is at 87 percent of average, Gillespie said. Snowpack in the north and south Platte river basins is at 92 percent of average.During the drought of 2002 statewide snowpack ended the season at less than 65 percent of average, sparking water conservation measures statewide. It was the worst drought in more than 300 years.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado