Climate: Early meltdown for Colorado snowpack

April 1 snowpack the 3d-lowest in 30 years; state preps for low runoff and summer streamflows

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Colorado snowpack started to decline in March, a month ahead of schedule.

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Colorado experienced widespread warmth in March.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado water users need to prepare for below-average spring and summer runoff and streamflow based on the all-important April 1 snow survey, which showed a startling drop in the state’s snowpack since early March.

After tallying readings from automated SNOTEL sites and manual snow surveys, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service said the water content of the snowpack is just 64 percent of average, down from 89 percent at the beginning of March.

“This is showtime when it comes to hydrological cycle in Colorado,” said state climatologist Nolan Doesken, referring to the fact that the state’s snowpack usually increases significantly in March and April. Continue reading

Morning photo: Meltdown

Reservoir scenes


FRISCO — Spring may be the most dynamic season for streams, ponds and reservoirs in the Colorado high country. After months of winter stasis, the lengthening days and warming temperatures bring change on a daily basis, as long-frozen surfaces suddenly turn into slushy puddles, only to refreeze at night as the temps drop just below freezing.

Additionally, the water level fluctuates beneath the ice, sometimes creating slanted surfaces that enable subsequent meltwater to flow in unusual patterns. I tried to capture some of that with the images in this set, all captured along the edge of Dillon Reservoir in the past few days. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Clmate: Western snowpack dwindling fast

Not much relief from El Niño

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This west-wide map shows that not a single river basin the West has an above-average snowpack as of April 2, 2015.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Unless there’s a drastic change in the weather the next few weeks, 2015 will become one of those poster-child years for how global warming will affect the West. By early April — when the snowpack usually peaks across the region’s mountains — many areas were already seeing a decline. In the Rocky Mountains, the snowpack in nearly every river basin was at least 30 percent below average, while picture in the Far West was even more grim. Continue reading

Morning photo: Welcome, spring

Celebrate the season!


FRISCO —We’re stepping into spring here in the Colorado high country, and right on schedule, the first western bluebirds appeared on the fringes of local forests. There are other signs as well — reflective meltwater ponds along the edge of Dillon Reservoir and budding willow shrubs. Stop whatever you’re doing today for at least a few minutes to get outside and celebrate the changing of the seasons!

Morning photo: Step outside …

Don’t fear the winter


FRISCO —After about five months of snow and cold, it’s understandable that some people might want to just curl up beneath a thick blanket for a few weeks to wait for spring. But if you do, you might miss scenes like this: Exquisite morning sunshine filtering through tall pines, the tangerine-colored glow of a winter sunset and the crumpled snow fields that look like cake frosting. Enjoy the last bits of winter, especially in the era of global warming, when winter snows seem far from a sure thing. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

March storms bring Colorado snowpack to near average

Southern mountains get huge snowpack boost

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Early March storms helped bring the Colorado snowpack to near normal.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s statewide snowpack continues to track near average for the winter, as two weeks of wet weather helped especially to bolster water supplies in the southern mountains.

But despite substantial accumulations statewide, the snowpack is still below average, at 87 percent of normal as of March 1. SNOTEL data shows that, during the nine-day period of February 20 through March 1, the state received 2.0 inches of snow water equivalent, 181 percent of the normal for that period.

Preliminary numbers from early March show an additional 7 percent gain between March 1 and March 5 — but with only 20 percent of the mountain snowpack accumulation season remaining, time is dwindling to close the gap and reach typical statewide peak snowpack levels. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

Cool in Colorado …


FRISCO — Just a short Sunday set featuring some “leftover” images from the past couple of weeks, including the strange solstice glow of the low winter sun and a stunning sunrise over the Blue River Valley. Follow our Instagram feed for daily updates, and visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America to see more Summit County nature and landscape images.

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