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Colorado: March 1 survey shows healthy snowpack

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Big parts of the West are experiencing a moisture deficit this winter, with drought continuing in California.

Northwest flow favors Colorado’s northern mountains

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For the third month in a row, Colorado snowpack is tracking above average. February, ended with the snowpack at 116 percent of median, with snowfall to-date for the water year (starting Oct. 1) at 133 percent of average.

A series of wet storm cycles pummeled the mountains during the month, with the bullseye over the north-central region, where some stations reported nearly double the average monthly snowfall. The no-Niño weather pattern has left a moisture deficit in the southwest part of the state, where the Upper Rio Grande and the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins, are still experiencing below normal snow conditions for this time of year.

The combined San Juan basins did see a 3 percentage point increase from last month and are currently at 85 percent of median. The Upper Rio Grande basin on the other hand lost five percentage points, dropping to just 79 percent of median.

Reservoir storage across the state remains just below average, at 89 percent of average, marking a big improvement over last year’s conditions at this time when storage was just 67 percent of average. With the current snowpack conditions and storage volumes drought conditions in most basins should be alleviated and reservoir storage should improve this spring.

Data collected during the recent snow surveys directly reflects what the state can expect for surface water supplies this coming spring and summer. The most recent streamflow forecasts continue to point to above- to well-above normal volumes for this spring and summer in most of the major river basins in Colorado; the exceptions will be the Upper Rio Grande and southwest basins.

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