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Summit County: Snowpack drops to near half of average

Temperature anomalies in Colorado from late November through late December.

Southeast Colorado sets December snowfall records

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Snowpack in the Blue River Basin, encompassing all of Summit County’s rivers and streams, is quickly dropping down toward just half of the long-term average for early January.

According to the January 6 readings from automated SNOTEL sites around the basin, the snowpack at Copper Mountain is just 55 percent of average, with only 3.4 inches of snow-water equivalent, compared to the average 6.2 inches for this date. The Copper SNOTEL site is located at 10,550 feet.

Precipitation for the  weather year-to-date (starting Oct. 1) is a little closer to average, at 68 percent, with 5.2 inches compared to the average 7.7 inches, but the gap between the precipitation total and the snowpack total reflects the warm and dry weather which has eaten away at the snowpack.

The other stations in Summit County are reporting similar readings. The Fremont Pass SNOTEL site (11.300 feet) is reporting a snowpack at 53 percent of average, with 4.2 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 7.9 inches.

Grizzly Peak (11,100 feet), near Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide, reports  the snowpack at 62 percent of average, with 5 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 8.1 inches.

The snowpack at Hoosier Pass (11.400 feet) is at 67 percent of average, the highest reading in the basin, and Summit Ranch, in the Lower Blue, is at 56 percent of average.

Farther west, the Vail Mountain SNOTEL site reports the snowpack at just 43 percent of average, with 4.3 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 10 inches, while Independence Pass, above Aspen, is at 45 percent.

December snowfall in Colorado focused on the plains, where the precipitation helped ease drought conditions. Pueblo reported its snowiest December on record, with 18.6 inches of snow just edging out the previous record (18.2 inches) set in 1913.

Lamar, Colorado also set an all-time record with 19 inches of snow on Dec. 20, exceeding any snowfall for that date and the second-highest snowfall total for any day of the year in Lamar.

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