Twin storms boost Colorado’s January snowpack

Entire state blanketed with snow in early Feburary

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Mid-winter, and nearly all of Colorado has snow on the ground.

Staff Report

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Snowpack is at or above average in all of Colorado’s river basins.

A pair of storms that bookended January helped raise the statewide snowpack level to 111 percent of average as of Feb. 1, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Survey.

Satellite images and other remote sensors operation by NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center storms left nearly the entire state blanketed in snow. Without those two storms, January snowfall would only have been about 70 percent of average for the month, said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey supervisor with the NRCS.

Snowfall continued through February 3, which increased snowpack totals to as high as 117 percent of normal as of Feb 4. The mountains of Southern Colorado saw the greatest increase in snow-water equivalent. From January 28 to February 3. total snowpack depth increased as much as 30 inches at the Cumbres Trestle SNOTEL in the San Juan Mountain range.

As of February 1, the snowpack was below average in only a handful of minor watersheds. All other drainages were above to well above normal. While the late January storms benefitted the entire state, January precipitation as a whole was particularly slim in the Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins and storms only amounted to about 75 percent of normal monthly snowpack accumulation.

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May was a drought-buster for eastern Colorado

Wet summer ahead?

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May precipitation broke the all-time record for Colorado.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in Many.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — May brought drought-busting precipitation to much of Colorado, state climate experts said last week during their monthly Water Availability Task Force meeting in Denver.

The beneficial moisture erased a long-running drought in southeastern Colorado and also helped boost the streamflow outlook in the Rio Grande Basin, where a meager winter snowpack had lowered expectations for summer runoff.

By contrast, the far western third of the state is still designated as experiencing abnormally dry conditions by the National Drought Monitor, which also shows a pocket of moderate drought across western Gunnison and much of Delta counties. Continue reading

Widespread flood warnings in Colorado

Hikers, motorists warned about overflowing streams and rivers

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Subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado is triggering more flood concerns.

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Flooding is possible in southwest Colorado, parts of the high country, as well as many Front Range streams.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With more subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado from the Southwest, parts of the state are under flood watches and flood warnings at the start of the weekend, including:

  • South Boulder Creek near Eldorado Springs,
  • Cache La Poudre River near Greeley affecting Weld County.
  • South Platte River at Henderson affecting Adams County.
  • South Platte River near Kersey affecting Weld County.
  • South Platte River near Weldona affecting Morgan County.
  • South Platte River near Balzac affecting Logan, Morgan and
    Washington Counties.

In the high country, the Eagle River is expected to come close to overflowing this weekend, with a flood advisory for the weekend. Other rivers running high include the Roaring Fork between Aspen and Glenwood Springs and the Colorado River from the Eagle/Grand County line to the Utah border. Continue reading

Will Pacific hurricanes dampen the Southwest?

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NASA’s Terra satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Andres on May 31, clearly showing the storm’s eye. Credit NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response.

Early tropical systems churning off the coast of Mexico

Staff Report

FRISCO — The eastern Pacific has already brewed up two tropical systems, with Hurricane Andres churning well off the coast and headed out to sea, and Tropical Storm Blanca, expected to reach hurricane force June 2.

Neither storm is a threat to Mexico, though the National Hurricane Center says some of Blanca’s outer rain bands could brush the coast. Continue reading

Study: No such thing as ‘normal’ weather in Colorado

Extreme storms can happen outside expected times

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A monsoon season lighting strike in Summit County. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new study led by Colorado-based scientists seems to reinforce the old saying that, when it comes to the state’s weather, there’s no such thing as normal.

The research aimed to track seasonal and geographical patterns of extreme weather events, especially the monster storms that create headaches for emergency responders and resources managers. But pinpointing those trends is not easy the weather experts found. Continue reading

Climate: Drought ‘donut’ circles Colorado

Forecast for wet spring helps ease concerns

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A drought donut around Colorado?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Above-average reservoir storage and forecasts for a wet spring season could help keep Colorado out of drought trouble — even though statewide precipitation has been below average for the entire water year to-date, starting last October. As of mid-March, 40 percent of Colorado was classified as being in severe drought conditions, with only 25 percent of the state drought-free. Continue reading

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

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