Generally dry weather in January, especially across the southern mountains, leads to decline in most river basins
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Although Summit County was the bullseye for a series snowstorms last month, water watchers said January was a dry month overall in Colorado, resulting in a significant decrease in mountain snowpack in all of the the state’s river basins. Statewide, the snowpack as a percentage of average dropped from 136 percent of average on Jan. 1 to 117 percent of average on Feb. 1.
The biggest declines were in the southern mountains, which only picked up about 25 percent of their average January precipitation, according to state conservationist Allen Green. The Feb. 1 snowpack is better than last year’s and on par with the 2009 snowpack.
Snowpack percentages decreased by 38 percentage points in the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins; declining from 144 percent of average on January 1, to 106 percent of average on February 1. Similar decreases were also measured in the Gunnison Basin, decreasing from 158 percent of average a month ago, to only 125 percent of average.
Only the Rio Grande Basin, in south-central Colorado, dropped below average, at 80 percent as of Feb. 1.
“Without those big storms back in December, most of the state would be well below average right now. At this point, they’ve allowed us to endure a dry month, yet maintain good snowpack readings nearly everywhere,” said Green.
Even after experiencing a dry January, the current snowpack remains well ahead of that measured a year ago at this time. With the exception of southwestern Colorado, the 2011 readings are consistently well above those of last year. Statewide totals are currently tracking at 137 percent of those from a year ago.
Currently, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and National Weather Service River Forecast Centers are predicting that this year’s water supplies will be near, to slightly above average in most locations. Given the existing snowpack conditions, only portions of the Rio Grande and Arkansas basins are expecting summer runoff to be below average. With only about 40 percent of the winter snow accumulation season remaining, the next two months will be critical for maintaining the current streamflow forecasts for the state.
% of Average
% of Last Year
% of Average
% of Last Year
|San Miguel, Dolores, Animas & San Juan||106||98||102||116|
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, La Niña, seasons, snow, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, Summit County snow and weather Tagged: | Colorado runoff forecast, Colorado snow, Colorado snowpack January 2011, Colorado snowpack readings, Colorado water, NRCS snowpack measurements Colorado, Summit County News, Summit County snowpack, United States