December snowfall slightly above average
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Colorado’s snowpack is lagging behind even last year’s meager Dec. 1 readings and water storage is even farther behind, indicating that the state’s water managers and users face another rough year unless some big late winter and spring storms roll through the Rockies.
As of Jan. 1, the statewide snowpack was at 70 percent of average and 9 percent behind last year’s reading on the same date — the fourth-lowest total in the past 32 years.
“Conditions could have been much worse if we had not received the moisture we did in December,” said Phyllis Ann Philipps, sttate conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
December snowfall in the mountains was about 12 percent above average, which helped the statewide snowpack catch up a bit, from just 36 percent of average on Dec. 1. The December snow surplus followed an exceptionally dry autumn. October snowfall was only 50 percent of average and November was just 41 percent.
Through Jan. 1, statewide precipitation is only at 68 percent of average, with biggest deficit in the southern part of the state. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins reported only 59 percent of average year-to-date precipitation on January 1. The Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas basins recorded 62 and 61 percent of average for year to date precipitation respectively.
Total accumulation ranges from 82 percent of average in the Yampa and White River basins, to 61 percent of average in the Arkansas basin. The South Platte River basin reported 67 percent of average and the Colorado River basin reported 68 percent of average
Due to last spring’s well below-average snowpack and subsequent low runoff and streamflow volumes throughout most of the state, reservoir storage is currently well below average throughout Colorado. Statewide reservoir storage at the end of December was just 68 percent of average and 38 percent of capacity.