Summit County: February snowfall a mixed bag

Colorado's snowpack is still lagging behind average.

Above-average totals reported in Breck; but below average in Dillon

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — For the second month in a row, snowfall totals were above average at the official National Weather Service observation station in the town of Breckenridge.

It was a different story in Dillon, where both snowfall and precipitation were well below normal.

Long-time weather watcher Rick Bly tallied 33 inches of snow in February, compared to the long-term average of 23.5 inches. On some days, strong winds may have blown some of the snow away from the measuring stick, Bly said.

That’s why the snow-water equivalent from the melted snow is a more important reading, and Bly said the February total was an encouraging 2.59 inches of water, well above the average 1.71 inches.

For the year-to-date, snowfall at the in-town location is now at 95.2 inches, just shy (93 percent) of the long-term average (101.5 inches).

For the year-to-date, the precipitation total is just above average for the first time since October, at 7.95 inches of water, compared to the average 7.52 inches for this time of year.

Despite a February bump, Colorado's snowpack is still trending below the long-term average.

That’s good news for the Blue River Basin, where the snowpack has lagged most of the winter, but statewide, the snowpack is still about 15 percent below average. The Blue River Basin feeds the Colorado Basin, where the snowpack is now at 80 percent of average, up a bit from a month ago.

The South Platte Basin is still reporting the highest snowpack reading, at 93 percent of normal, while the Yampa and North Platte basins are at about 80 percent. In the southwestern river basins, the snowpack ranges between 84 and 88 percent of average.

Bly said March is generally a consistent month for snowfall. Even in dry years, March snowfall has been fairly reliable, with between 25 and 50 inches of snow. that’s a hopeful sign going in the final weeks of the ski season and the busy spring break period, which could be the make-or-break for some local businesses. The average March snowfall in Breckenridge is about 25 inches.

The biggest march on record was way back in the monster winter of 1899, when most local snowfall records were set, with more than 120 inches of snow. The biggest total recorded during Bly’s watch was in 2003, with 47 inches. The driest March on record was 1962, with just 4 inches, and more recently, Bly recorded only 9.7 inches in 1986.

In Dillon, Denver Water observers recorded 12 inches of snow in February, compared to the average 18.6 inches. That melted down to just 0.75 inches of water, well short of the average 1.2 inches.

Temperatures at the Dillon site were close to the long-term norm, with the average daily high for February at 33.7 degrees, just 0.3 degrees below the average 34 degrees.

The average minimum temperature was slightly above average, at 2.1 degrees, compared to the average 1.5 degrees.

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3 Responses

  1. [...] From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn): Long-time weather watcher Rick Bly tallied 33 inches of snow in February, compared to the long-term average of 23.5 inches. On some days, strong winds may have blown some of the snow away from the measuring stick, Bly said. That’s why the snow-water equivalent from the melted snow is a more important reading, and Bly said the February total was an encouraging 2.59 inches of water, well above the average 1.71 inches… [...]

  2. Want two more weekends of skiing at Breck in April?
    Call mtn manager Gary Shimanowitz at (970) 496-3211
    and voice your support for extended ski season this year.
    The are receptive to the idea if there is enough public support.

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